photos – Andy Gibson
The Stena Line Belfast Giants advanced to the Challenge Cup Semi-Final thanks to a 6-2 win against the Manchester Storm on Tuesday in Belfast and an aggregate victory of 11-4. The Giants will now wait to discover their opponents in the next round with Dundee and Cardiff playing their Quarter Final 2nd Leg on Wednesday. Dates for the Semi-Final home and away legs will be announced in due course.
The puck dropped with the home side missing defencemen Derrick Walser and Matt Nickerson from the lineup. The game was just over five minutes old when the deadlock was broken as Craig Peacock won the battle for the puck in front of the net and fired past Zane Kalemba at 5:44. The Giants goal left the visitors 1-0 down on the night and 6-2 behind in the tie.
Although, the Storm pulled one back midway through the opening period through Paul Phillips as the defenceman scored his 15th of the season with a shorthanded effort at12:39.
Mitch Ganzak gave the Giants a go-ahead goal with a powerplay strike at 28:31, assisted by Michael Forney, with Omar Pacha sitting out a two minute penalty for Cross-Checking. At 10:46, the Storm answered with a powerplay goal of their own as Mathew Sisca scored his 22nd goal of the season to tie things up on the night at 2-2.
David Rutherford gave the Giants the lead on the night, assisted by Mike Radja, with a fine finish high into the Storm net at 37:42. Seconds later, it was 4-2 as James Desmarais picked out Colin Shields in space, who made no mistake shooting past Manchester netminder Kalemba at 38:31.
2:16 into the third and final period – Kris Beech added a 5th goal for the hosts, giving the Giants a 10-4 aggregate lead.
At 46:23, Stephen Murphy made way for the Giants Northern Irish netminder – Andrew Dickson, who went on to shutout the Manchester Storm for the remainder of the game. A sixth and final goal came at 50:08, shorthanded, from Michael Forney after an unselfish assist from Darryl Lloyd.
The Giants return to Elite League action at the weekend – facing Fife on Saturday on the road before returning to Belfast to take on the Nottingham Panthers on Sunday, face-off 5pm.
Stena Line Belfast Giants (11) 6-2 (4) Manchester Storm
Giants Man of the Match:
#72 Darryl Lloyd