The Stena Line Belfast Giants opened their return to domestic hockey with a 3-2 win over the Fife Flyers on Saturday, thanks to a overtime winning goal from Giants d-man Calvin Elfring. Elfring’s goal, with 1:37 gone in overtime, saw the Giants exact revenge on the Flyers, following the Scottish side’s 6-1 September win in Belfast. It was a positive result for the Giants who returned to Elite League action following last weekend’s Continental Cup games in France. Although the visitors were missing key personnel with Stephen Murphy, Mark Garside and Kevin Saurette all out through injury, leaving the Giants with 15 skaters on the ice to the Flyers 18.
The Giants overtime win sees the team advance to the Challenge Cup Quarter-Finals where they will face the Cardiff Devils. Details of the Quarter Final will be announced in due course.
The first period in Fife was an end-to-end affair as both sides showed went in search of an opening goal – forcing Carsen Chubak and Jack Astedt, making his Flyers debut, into action. Each of the teams had their special teams opportunities and it was the visitors who struck first while on the powerplay – Mike Kompon, returning to domestic action after a long spell on the sidelines through injury, slotted home from a wraparound after 7:43 to give the Giants the lead.
The goal seemed to give Belfast confidence and they began to gain a stranglehold on the game and test Astedt on numerous occasions, however with 16:13 on the clock, the Flyers equalised against the run of play. Scott Fleming picked up the puck at halfway and skated into the Giants zone and fired high and over the shoulder of Chubak to tie things up, 1-1.
The second 20 minutes in Scotland saw the home side grow into the game – outshooting the Giants 12-8 and forcing some quality stops from Chubak, including while on a 5-on-3 – one of three powerplays for the Flyers in the period – however after 40 minutes, the game remained tied at 1-1.
The third period in Fife saw the game come to life with the home side taking the lead for the first time in the game at 47:58, as Bobby Chaumont tapped in at the back post following a pass from Jordan Fulton. However, the Giants battled hard and with time running out, Mark McCutcheon followed in on a Colin Shields shot and tucked away the rebound with only a few minutes left to take the game into overtime.
Referee Rab Cowan dropped the puck to start overtime and after only 1:37, we had a winner. d-man Calvin Elfring skated the puck into the slot and ripped a slapshot into the back of the Fife Flyers net to give the Giants the overtime win and two Challenge Cup points ahead ofSunday’s big game against the Sheffield Steelers in Belfast, face-off 4pm.
Fife Flyers 2-3 Stena Line Belfast Giants
Man of the Match:
#1 Carsen Chubak, Netminder – 33 Saves