The Stena Line Belfast Giants picked up a key league victory on Saturday night with a commanding victory in the first leg of a weekend home-and-home with the Coventry Blaze.
The Giants got goals from Curtis Hamilton, Brian Ward, Ben Lake, and Jordan Smotherman and a strong performance in net from Shane Owen on their way to a 4-1 victory. Face-off at Sunday’s league game in Coventry is 5:30pm.
After killing off two penalties in the first half of the first frame, the Giants finally opened the scoring at 13:28. Lewis Hook won a battle along the boards in the offensive zone, luring the defenders away to open up space in the middle of the zone for a streaking Ben Lake. Lake made no mistake, burying a snipe past Jamie Phillips to take a 1-0 lead. The goal was Lake’s fourth in league play this season.
Belfast’s goal would be the only one scored in a first period defined by physicality and tenacity. Both teams tried to set the tempo, laying out multiple big hits throughout the first 20 minutes of play. Shortly after the Giants took the lead, Bobby Farnham tried to drop the gloves but the referees got in the middle of it. The Giants would skate out of the first period with a 1-0 lead and a 13-7 lead in shots.
The Giants would extend their lead to 2-0 at 27:44 after some wild end-to-end action. After the Blaze were denied on the doorstep by Shane Owen, the Giants turned around and ripped up the ice in transition. Liam Morgan carried the puck into the zone, feathered a pass to Lewis Hook, who quickly fired a cross-crease pass to Brian Ward, who was crashing the net. Ward would make no mistake, firing a puck past a sprawling Phillips.
Almost immediately after, the Blaze would bring themselves back into the game thanks to a nice deflection goal from Matt Pohlkamp. The Giants would regain their two-goal lead before the end of the second frame. Patrick Mullen took a shot from the point that was deflected by Brian Ward and buried by Jordan Smotherman, who was parked in front of the net.
The Giants held a 3-1 lead heading into the second intermission while also outshooting the Blaze, 26-18.
Running Away In The Third
The Giants would start to put the game out of reach in the third period. Despite being short-handed, Ben Lake got the puck in the offensive zone and dangled down low, leading Phillips away from the crease. He would fire a pass to Curtis Hamilton who made no mistake putting the puck into the yawning cage, making the score 4-1. The goal was Hamilton’s team-leading eighth in league play this season.
The three-goal lead was more than enough for the Giants as they would cruise through the rest of the third period on their way to the victory. With the win, the Giants moved to 6-1-2 on the season. Since the Sheffield Steelers and Glasgow Clan both won, the Giants still remain two points out of the league lead, though they have two games in hand.
The Giants will complete their home-and-home with the Blaze on the road in Coventry on Sunday night. They’ll be on the road twice next weekend and return to The SSE Arena on Saturday 16th November against the Dundee Stars. Tickets are available online now at ticketmaster.ie.