The Stena Line Belfast Giants bounced back from defeat on the road in Cardiff on Saturday night, posting their first two Premier Sports Elite Ice Hockey League points of the season in Coventry with a 3-5 win over the Blaze.
A Scott Conway hat trick and a double for defenceman Kevin Raine saw Adam Keefe’s men through a tight encounter which was tied at 3-3heading into the final 10 minutes.
A choppy start for Belfast was underlined by an early Mark Cooper penalty for Holding the Stick at 1:16. Coventry’s power play unit wasted no time in bearing down on Tyler Beskorowany, forcing a succession of saves.
The Giants settled quickly at full strength, sending bodies to the net to disrupt solid Blaze goaltender CJ Motte. However, it was a shot from range which opened the scoring. Kevin Raine found his opening from the blue line at 9:56, pulling the trigger on a vicious one timer, which sailed high into the net unassisted. (0-1)
Slater Doggett almost doubled Belfast’s lead two minutes later, but his shot from the mid slot was waved off by referee Dean Smith as the net was dislodged from its moorings.
Coventry weathered a pair of penalty kills (Ross Venus, cross-checking, 14:44 & John Curran, holding, 17:49) as the period ended with 10 Giants shots on goal to the Blaze’s six.
Johnny Curran put the cat among the pigeons just 1:09 into the middle period, sending a shot from the left of the Giants’ zone through traffic and past Beskorowany to tie the game. (Assist: Dillon Eichstadt, 1-1).
Scott Conway crossed Coventry’s blue line and fired a wrist shot, pickpocketing his own rebound from close quarters to add a second for Belfast, unassisted, at 32:58 (1-2).
Coventry applied pressure on the Giants defenders from the drop, and their consistency on the draw all evening long paid off at 36:52; when Johnny Curran finished a well worked play from the right offensive circle, his second of the night (Assist: Janne Laakkonen, Dane Gibson, 2-2).
Belfast killed a JJ Piccinich tripping penalty at 37:36 to leave the sides level at the break.
CJ Motte carried the Blaze in the opening 10 minutes of the final period as Belfast pressed; the Blaze goaltender continuing his fine form so far this season. In fact, he almost earned himself an assist, catching Belfast out on a line change, with a long pass into the offensive zone.
Scott Conway added his second of the game and Belfast’s third at 50:02, roofing a wrist shot from the right circle unassisted (2-3).
A Blaze power play (Raine, interference, 50:53) was halted at 51:43 when Nathaniel Halbert sat for roughing, however the Blaze tied it again at 4 on 4 when Evan Bloodoff wristed home unassisted at the near post from the left at 52:53 (3-3).
Kevin Raine played a beautiful pass to Scott Conway for the Giants forward to complete his hat trick, and once again retake the lead at 55:41 (3-4).
And it was Raine who capped off a brilliant offensive evening by icing proceedings from the Giants zone at 59:13, with his empty net goal coming shortly after a Blaze time out to ice the extra skater (3-5).
The Stena Line Belfast Giants make the trip to Manchester to face the Storm next Saturday 23rdOctober at 7:00pm, before returning home to face the Dundee Stars in Challenge Cup action at The SSE Arena, Belfast on Sunday 24th October at 4:00pm. Tickets on sale NOW!