The Stena Line Belfast Giants opened 2016 with a 6-3 win over the Coventry Blaze at The SSE Arena, Belfast on Saturday night. Goals from Kris Beech (2), Mike Radja (2), Craig Peacock and Chris Higgins gave the Giants the win ahead of Sunday’s reverse fixture in Coventry.
The Giants, missing Jeff Mason from the lineup, took the lead in the first period with a Kris Beech powerplay goal at 5:06, assisted by Mike Wilson and James Desmarais. It was 2-0 when Craig Peacock doubled the home side’s lead at 17:18 to give the Giants a commanding hold on the game after the first 20 minutes of play.
In the second period, Cale Tanaka pulled one back for the visitors, scoring past Stephen Murphy at 21:55. Coventry’s hope was short-lived as Mike Radja regained a two-goal lead for the Giants at 22:36 with a fine finish past Brian Stewart on a breakaway.
Chris Higgins, while the Blaze were killing a 5-on-3 penalty, extended the home side’s lead to 4-1 at 30:51, assisted by Brandon Benedict and Craig Peacock. Right before the end of the second period at 38:39 – Jim Jorgensen’s powerplay goal brought the Coventry Blaze back to within two goals.
In the final period, Kris Beech scored his second of the game, also on the powerplay, to give the Belfast side a 5-2 lead. Russell Cowley made it 5-3 with a powerplay strike at 55:25, the fourth special teams goal of the game.
Mike Radja completed the scoring at 57:25 when he picked up a loose puck in front of Stewart and slotted home to give the Giants a 6-3 home win.
Next up at home for the Giants are two vital games against the Sheffield Steelers on Friday 8th January and Saturday 9th January.
Stena Line Belfast Giants 6-3 Coventry Blaze
Giants Man of the Match:
#15 Kris Beech