Have the Giants turned the corner?

Giants are starting to return to form despite loss in Cardiff

Steve Thornton Director of Hockey BelfastHappier Days with Steve Thornton 

Stena Line Belfast Giants’ Director of Hockey Operations, Steve Thornton seems to have got his team beginning to think and act constructively. For a few periods over last week’s games the Belfast Squad played with conviction and enjoyment, and with some degree of success. It is now too late to have any real affect on the outcome of the last trophy to compete for, the Playoff Cup.

Saturday night in the Odyssey Arena used to be a troubling place to come if you were the opposition facing the Giants! The arena was the home of legendry giants. Visiting teams usually left the rink with the sternest test having been given out to their hockey team. That started to happen again, for at least a period maybe even two when the Stena Line Belfast Giants went ahead 3-0 with goals from Kompon, Phillips and Sawada. Additionally, Kevin Saurette recorded his 500th career point after his assist on the final goal.

 

Mike Kompon Shoots

 Giants Mike Kompon in action

David Philips

David Philips

 

sawada-stingrays-450x235

Ray Sawada is a constant goal scorer for the Giants

Rather than killing off the game like the Giants of old Belfast somehow allowed the Stingrays’ sharp shooters to score, from Cory Tanaka and Carl Lauzon who nearly wrestled the final outcome in Hull’s favor. Hull’s net minder, David Brown was given an extreme examination in that opening period when first Mike Kompon broke the deadlock. Great passing from the Giants’ players saw Davey Phillips on hand to double the lead going into the first intermission. That passion for the game continued during the second period when Ray Sawada made it 3-0 with the Giants scoring on a powerplay opportunity.

That score started the Stingrays’ come back with Cory Tanaka reducing the deficit to a two-goal lead in favor of the Giants late in the middle stanza. The Giants took their foot off the accelerator in the third period. They gave Hull the feeling they could get something from the match with a massive 5-on-3 opportunity. However, a stellar effort from the home team on the penalty kill prevented anything arising from this.

Yet Hull held onto their self-belief. Carl Lauzon fired past Chubak short-handed to narrow the score line to 3-2 and continued to pile on the pressure. They pulled Brown with a minute left in play but Belfast put everything they had in front of any shots and ensured they left with the win. Relieved when the final whistle was blown, the Giants skated away with a win. It could narrowly have been a different outcome other than the squelch 3-2 victory. Giants’ ‘Man of the Match’ was David Philips.

GIANTS V STINGRAYS MCOOPER6

Giants Mike Kompon seems always on the score sheet

Next up was a trip to Wales to confront the on-form Cardiff Devils headed up by former Giant GM Todd Kelman. Sunday night in Wales witnessed great domination from the Giants’ squad. They outshot the Devils 30-22. However, this time when a win looked more certain than a loss, Belfast lost.

 GIANTS V FIFE MCOOPER4

Colin Shields cellebrates

Evan Cheverie

Giants Evan Cheverie got Shields’ rebound and scored

The Devils got a flying start scoring before two minutes had been played on the game clock scoring from Mathew Myers. Belfast dug deep with Colin Shields ripping a slap shot which Bowns saved, however the rebound fell on Evan Cheverie’s stick who had followed up on Shields’ shot and slotted the puck in for his 13th goal of the season. Cardiff came right back though Joey Haddad and completed the first period scoring with a powerplay goal to push the Devils back into a 2-1 lead.

sawada-450x235

 

Giants Ray Sawada during his Texas days

Cardiff’s Joey Martin extended their lead in the second period, assisted by Hudson and Marsh. Ray Sawada pulled one back for the Giants midway through the second period, netting his 20th goal of the season, but still chasing a 2-3 score line despite out playing the Devils. In the third period Belfast threw everything including the imaginary ‘Belfast sink’ at the Devils trying to score the equalizer, even out shooting them by a significant margin. It was not to be and the Giants returned home knowing they were the better squad despite the score sheet recording a 3-2 loss.

This outcome does not affect the Giants’ standing in the Conference – see table below – with the Belfast side 4 points behind the Nottingham Panthers in the race for seeding in the Playoffs. Still icing without Stephen Murphy in goal, yet welcoming the return of Calvin Elfring now recovered from injury, it made the defense more coherent.

The Giants return to action this weekend, with a game in Sheffield against the Steelers on Saturday evening – before returning to Belfast for two mouth-watering clashes against the Nottingham Panthers on Saturday 14 March, with face-off at 7.00 PM and Sunday 15 March, face-off 4.00 PM.

 Elite Ice Hockey League Standings 2014/15
After games of 1/3/15    
GP Regulation OT/PS OT/PS Regulation PTS Current
Wins Wins Losses Losses Streak
Braehead*

46

30

2

3

11

67

4W

Sheffield*

45

25

4

4

12

62

1L

Cardiff*

45

24

5

4

12

62

5W

Nottingham*

46

20

5

6

15

56

1W

Belfast*

47

23

2

5

17

55

1L

Fife

47

17

4

2

24

44

1L

Coventry

46

16

5

2

23

44

5W

Hull

43

15

2

7

19

41

1W

Edinburgh

45

11

6

5

23

39

2L

Dundee

46

5

7

4

30

28

1L

 

*Qualified for Play-Offs (top 8 qualify)

 

 Gardiner Conference Standings 2014-2015
After games of 1/3/15
GP Regulation OT/PS OT/PS Regulation PTS Current
Wins Wins Losses Losses Streak
Braehead*

28

22

1

1

4

47

5W

Fife

28

14

2

0

12

32

1L

Hull

28

10

2

5

11

29

1W

Edinburgh

27

8

3

3

13

25

1L

Dundee

27

3

4

3

17

17

4L

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Erhardt Conference Standings 2014-2015
After games of 1/3/15
GP Regulation OT/PS OT/PS Regulation PTS Current
Wins Wins Losses Losses Streak
Nottingham

28

12

4

3

9

35

4L

Cardiff

28

15

1

2

10

34

3W

Belfast

28

12

2

3

11

31

4L

Sheffield

26

11

2

3

10

29

1L

Coventry

30

8

3

1

18

23

7W

 

Written By Wayne Hardman

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