They say that good things come to those who wait, and after 18 long months, the Teal Army have most certainly waited. Another rollercoaster EIHL Season began in earnest for the Belfast Giants on Saturday evening, emerging victorious on the road with a 6-3 thriller over Omar Pacha’s new look Dundee Stars in Challenge Cup group action.
Despite a strong early presence from Dundee in the Belfast zone, Ben Lake found the puck on his stick at 1:48, breaking down the slot for a cool wristed finish past Adam Morrison (0-1, assisted by Slater Doggett).
The Giants struggled to establish zone possession on their opening power play at 5:57 when Kyle Haas sat for high sticking, but Ben Lake was in the mix once again at 8:15 when his pass from the left circle found Lewis Hook who made no mistake at close range (0-2).
It took just 28 seconds for Dundee to respond. Haas crashed down on Beskorowany’s glove side, finishing Sebastian Bengtsson’s pass from the high slot at 8:43. (1-2)
Belfast weathered back-to-back penalty kills mid-period, before a fantastic solo effort from J.J. Piccinich restored their two-goal cushion at 16:49. (1-3)
Dundee attempted to dictate the pace early in the middle period, playing out from behind Morrison. They were rewarded at 25:37 when a Connor Sills one timer from the right side of the zone beat Beskorowany high on his glove side. (2-3)
Moments later, Markus Kankaanperä’s contact with Beskorowany in the crease sparked a melee, and a noticeable shift in the physicality of the game. 20 PIMS were distributed between the sides over the next 8 minutes, before Adam Keefe called a timeout ahead of a Giants power play at 35:02.
The Giants cycled the puck well, setting up J.J. Piccinich for his second of the night at 35:31. (2-4)
Then, with just 15.4 seconds left in the period, Philippe Sanche calmly slotted home a Charlie Combs pass from the left, a crucial goal to keep Dundee’s hopes alive. (3-4)
Belfast looked settled throughout the first half of a much slower final period, limiting Dundee’s chances and pouring forward in possession. Scott Conway found David Goodwin in front of goal at 47:05, who fired home a fifth to give the visitors some room to breathe in the closing stages. (3-5)
Omar Pacha called a time out following an unsuccessful Stars power play (Conway, Tripping, 56:37), but their final roll of the dice didn’t go to plan. David Goodwin forced a turnover in the Dundee zone almost immediately, cutting in from the left circle to score his second of the night and ice the game with 1:12 to go. (3-6)
With a sizeable travelling contingent of the Teal Army on their feet and in fine voice, time elapsed and the Belfast Giants – finally- returned to action with a convincing win on the road in Dundee. Good things come to those who wait.
The Giants have one more stop on their opening Scottish road trip, facing the Fife Flyers in Challenge Cup action on Sunday at 5:30pm. Unfortunately, there will be no Flyers webcast so keep up to date by following @BelfastGiants on Twitter. Remaining tickets for next Friday’s home opener, a rematch against the Dundee Stars, are on sale now.