The Stena Line Belfast Giants kicked off their weekend back-to-back series against the Guildford Flames in commanding fashion, exploding for a 7-3 victory in front of a loud crowd at The SSE Arena.
Belfast got goals from Liam Morgan (x2), David Goodwin, Bobby Farnham, Jordan Smotherman, Elgin Pearce and Ryan Lowney while Stephen Murphy made 22 saves in the victory.
The Giants remain in third place, three points behind the Cardiff Devils, on 57 points though the Welsh side have played three games less. The Sheffield Steelers remain in first place with 61 points from 46 games.
Scoreless First Frame
The Giants and Flames skated into the first intermission with a scoreless draw on the scoreboard.
Belfast carried a slight edge in shots on goal at 15-12, but they carried the play in terms of possession for the majority of the first 20 minutes of play. The issue for the Giants was that they garnered plenty of zone time but couldn’t bust through a tight, stingy Guildford defence.
Guildford would be the team to break the scoreless deadlock just a few minutes into the second period. At 23:34, Brett Ferguson walked the puck into the zone and carried it out into the slot. The Giants’ defenders would work to clear the crease but the puck bounced to the side of the net to Ben Davies, who ripped it off the post and into the crease where Jamie Crooks would bury it into the open net.
That lead wouldn’t last long. A few minutes later with the Giants on the power-play, David Goodwin picked up the puck deep in Guildford’s zone on a turnover and walked it out front completely alone and roofed a shot over Travis Fullerton’s blocker hand to knot the game at 1-1. The goal, which came at 28:07, was Goodwin’s 13th of the season.
At 32:08, the Giants would again capitalize on the power-play. Goodwin ripped a shot from the point that got blocked in front, but Bobby Farnham pounced on the rebound and wired it into the back of the cage. The goal was Farnham’s 15th of the season. Moments later at 33:15 on yet another power-play, Lewis Hook hit Liam Morgan in the slot who would bury his own rebound past Fullerton for his ninth of the season.
Belfast would extend their lead to 5-1 with back-to-back goals that came within a matter of seconds. First, at 36:22, Jordan Smotherman roofed a shot from in tight, and then, at 36:33, Elgin Pearce tipped a shot from Kevin Raine past Fullerton.
Foot On The Gas
The Flames would cut into the lead mid-way through the third period. Jamie Crooks fed Ben Davies on a two-on-one and he wired a one-time shot past a sprawling Stephen Murphy to make the score 5-2. Shortly after that, the Flames made the score 5-3. Ian Watters brought the puck into the zone and fed Erik Lindhagen who deked out Murphy and roofed a shot on his backhand.
The Giants would get both of those goals back shortly after. At 53:06, Ryan Lowney hit Liam Morgan with a pass at the blueline who fired a sneaky wrist-shot from just inside the zone past backup goaltender Wouter Peeters. The goal was Morgan’s second of the game and 10th on the season. Then, at 57:49, Bobby Farnham picked up the puck behind the net and hit Ryan Lowney in the slot for a one-time blast.
Belfast would ride out the rest of the clock on their way to a commanding 7-3 victory.
Stena Line Belfast Giants 7-3 Guildford Flames
Player of the Game
#21 Liam Morgan (2 Goals)
The Giants and Flames will be back for the second leg of the double-header on Saturday night at the SSE Arena. After that, Belfast will host five-consecutive games at home over the next three weekends before closing out the season on the road at the end of March. Tickets are available online now at ticketmaster.ie.