The Stena Line Belfast Giants picked up a key victory in pursuit of their third-consecutive Challenge Cup Championship, defeating the Fife Flyers 7-2 in the first of back-to-back games this weekend.
The Giants exploded offensively, getting goals from Jean Dupuy, Bobby Farnham, Brian Ward, Curtis Hamilton, Jordan Smotherman, and Liam Morgan en route to a commanding victory. With the win, the Giants now sit in second place with the Dundee Stars top of Group A in the Cup standings. Stephen Murphy started in the Belfast net, backstopping the hosts to the Saturday win with 18 saves.
After killing off a penalty of their own, the Giants got an opportunity with the man advantage. Both power play units got scoring chances, but they weren’t able to convert.
Shortly after both teams returned to even strength, Jean Dupuy drove past the Fife defender and slid a puck between goaltender Adam Morrison’s legs. The goal, which came at 5:53 represented the first of Dupuy’s career as a member of the Giants.
The Giants were able to double their lead just a few minutes later at 10:13. Patryk Wronka stripped the puck from a Flyers defender and worked up the ice for a partial breakaway. Wronka found Jordan Smotherman, who was busting down the wing, for a one-time snipe over a diving Morrison. The goal was Smotherman’s second of the season in domestic play.
Fife Answers Back
The Flyers got themselves on the board at 17:45 when Danick Gauthier, who sits in a tie for most goals in the league, buried a chance right in front of the net past Stephen Murphy. The goal came right after the Giants had killed off their fourth penalty of the period.
Belfast would skate out of the period with a 2-1 lead and a 13-8 lead on the shot clock, which was impressive given the eight minutes they spent on the penalty kill.
The Flyers couldn’t hang on for long as Giants started to run away with the game in the second frame.
At 27:11, Bobby Farnham picked up his first goal in domestic play when he ripped a shot top-shelf over Morrison. Jean Dupuy picked up the assist on the play, giving him two points on the night. Later in the period, Curtis Hamilton buried a pass from Ward, extending his goal-scoring streak to six games.
The Giants weren’t done there. With the team on the power play, Wronka feathered a pass from behind the net to Brian Ward who was parked right in the slot. Ward made no mistake, potting his third goal in domestic play past Morrison. Including Champions League, Challenge Cup, and League play, Ward now has a team-leading six goals on the season.
Belfast carried a 5-1 lead and a 29-12 lead on the shot clock after 40 minutes of play.
Cruising Through The Third
The Giants continued to pad their lead in the third period. At 44:09, Liam Morgan grabbed the puck behind the net, walked out and into the slot, and fired a wrist-shot past Morrison to extend the lead to 6-1. With the goal and two assists on the night, Morgan now has 13 points through Champions League, Challenge Cup, and League play.
At 51:57 with the Giants on the power play, Jordan Smotherman extended the lead to 7-1. Smotherman picked up the puck at the face-off circle and, with Liam Reddox screening Morrison, ripped a puck to the back of the net. It was Smotherman’s second goal of the night.
Immediately after, Danick Gauthier would pick up his second goal of the game, pushing the score to 7-2. That would be the final score as the Giants cruised through the rest of the third period on the way to victory.
With the win, the Giants now sit tied with the Dundee Stars at the top of Group A in the Challenge Cup. Three of the four teams will advance from the group into the playoffs and the win made it very likely Belfast will be one of them. A win in Fife Sunday night over the Flyers would ensure the Giants can’t finish last in the group.
Stena Line Belfast Giants 7-2 Fife Flyers
Giants Player of the Game
#39 Jean Dupuy (1 Goals + 1 Assist)
The Giants return to Challenge Cup action on Sunday in Scotland against the Fife Flyers, face-off 6:30pm. Next at home is the Guildford Flames in the Elite League on Friday 4th October – tickets are now available online now through ticketmaster.ie.