The Stena Line Belfast Giants are back in the win column. The Giants squeezed out a 3-1 victory against the Manchester Storm on the back of two goals from Jordan Smotherman, a clutch one from Matt Pelech, and 20 saves from Stephen Murphy.
It took nearly the entire first half of the game for somebody to find the back of the net. After a scoreless first period, the Storm finally opened the scoring at 28:04 when defence an Zach Sullivan fired a slap-shop from the point past a screened Stephen Murphy.
When it looked like the Giants were going to head into the second intermission without a score, captain Matt Pelech buried a clutch goal to tie the game at 1-1. Pelech worked the puck out in front and fired a laser between goaltender Matt Ginn’s five-hole. The goal, which came at 39:01, represented Pelech’s first in league play and second across all games so far this season.
The score on the board after two periods didn’t reflect the play on the ice. Though the game was tied 1-1, the Giants were dominating possession, outshooting the Storm 29-13 heading into the second intermission.
Mid-way through the third, the Storm were given a glorious opportunity to regain their lead. The Giants were carrying the early part of the third period, but the Storm got possession and drew a penalty shot as a result of hooking in front of the net. Stephen Murphy would turn the penalty shot aside with a well-tracked, swapping save.
That stop would end up being crucial. Immediately after the penalty shot, the Giants worked the puck up the ice, Jordan Smotherman deked through two Storm defenders, and roofed a quick shot over top of Ginn’s glove. The goal, which was Smotherman’s first in league play and fifth on the season, would give the Giants their first lead of the match at 2-1.
Shutting The Door
Smotherman’s goal would end up being the game-winner but he also buried an empty-net insurance goal with 44 seconds left on the clock to ice the victory.
Belfast’s tight defence and solid goaltending from Murphy shut Manchester down in the third period. Murphy’s biggest save of the night came on the game-changing penalty shot, but he was strong when he needed to be, turning aside 20 of 21 shots to help the Giants pick up the win.
A major key for the Giants on the night was a shut-down penalty kill. The Storm had seven different opportunities on the power play, including three in the third period when trying to tie the game up, but the Giants denied all of them.
Snapping The Losing Run
The win against Manchester snapped Belfast’s six-game losing streak that included losses in EIHL, Cup, and Champions League play. The Giants now own a 3-1-2 record in league play this season.
The Giants start next weekends’ games at home with a Friday night clash against the Dundee Stars, face-off 7pm at The SSE Arena. Tickets are available online now at ticketmaster.ie. Belfast then travel to face the Manchester Storm next Saturday, face-off 7pm.