Giants now face must win double hitter!

Giants enjoy victory then an aggravating defeat over the weekend

 Belfast’s lack luster defeat to Cardiff in the second leg of the Challenge Cup means another possible cup lost to the Giants’ organization. There are only two cups left to play for now – the League and the Playoff Trophy .

 A familiar saying goes something like this,  “the best course of action after coming off your horse is to get back on and try a little harder”.

 So the Giants got back on the horse and tried a bit harder. They did this by moving into first place in the Elite League standings with a 6-3 victory against the Dundee Stars on Saturday in Belfast. With that victory the Giants then sat in first place, one point ahead of the Cardiff Devils who had played two games fewer.

Belfast Giants v Dundee Stars - Elite Ice Hockey League

Derrick Walser (43) celebrates with teammates after the Giants score

In the winning match against Dundee Stars player coach Derrick Walser opened the scoring, pouncing on a rebound and firing home the puck assisted by James Desmarais and Colin Shields.

Belfast Giants v Braehead Clan - exhibition gameBlair Riley (25) nets with 1.5 seconds left on clock

 The Stars’ Justin Faryna equalized with a mid-air finish after Stephen Murphy had made the save from Felix-Antoine Poulin’s shot. With only 1.5 seconds remaining in the first period, David Rutherford fed the puck to Blair Riley at the back post for a important goal just before the buzzer.

David Rutherford (91)

David Rutherford (91) nets the go ahead goal

Dundee’s Cale Tanaka made it 2-2 on the night, assisted by Joey Sides and Cameron McGiffin. However the Giants regained the lead once again with a great finish from David Rutherford midway through the second period.

It was that Dundee man Justin Faryna who grabbed his second of the game with a cool finish right in front of the net from a Kevin Hart pass. The Giants’ player protests that Blair Riley had been obstructed on the play were disregarded and the game was tied at the end of two periods of play.

Quesnele-1

Michael Quesnele (8) nets for the Giants

In the final period Michael Quesnele took advantage of a rebound off Matt Nickerson’s shot to give the Giants a 4-3 lead. The Giants’  Jim Vandermeer unleashed a cannon of a slap shot which rifled into the Stars’ net, assisted by Chris Higgins and Blair Riley.

Belfast Giants v Dundee Stars - Elite Ice Hockey League

Jim Vandermeer (9) celebrates with Colin Shilds (19)

In the end the Giants cruised to victory following an empty net goal in the final few minutes of the game when David Rutherford assisted Alex Foster.

Elite Ice Hockey League - Belfast Giants v Edinburgh Capitals

 Alex Foster (23) secures the game with an empty net score

After a thrilling game the final score was Belfast Giants 6-3 Dundee Stars and the Giants’ Man of the Match was awarded to #91 David Rutherford.

Elite Ice Hockey League - Belfast Giants vs Coventry Blaze

Jim Vandermeer (9) takks about Team Plan

The Giants’ Jim Vandermeer spoke after the Dundee game stating, “We just stick to our game plan which seems to work.”  Both Vandermeer and player coach Derrick Walser have extensive NHL experience which is the backbone of the Giants’ defensive core if -not the team’s. Coming from behind shows commitment to the squad’s game plan and beliefs.

The Giants had a day off before travelling to Fife to take on the Flyers who are having a very competitive season.

With everything to play for the Giants fell to a 9-5 defeat despite battling back to level terms from a 4-1 deficit. A dominant final performance by Fife ended the Giants’ seven game league winning streak.

Following the weekend’s results, the Giants now sit second place again, three points behind next weekend’s opponents the Cardiff Devils.

Brooks (49) scores for Fife

Brendan Brooks starts the Fife machine rolling

In that Fife game, the Flyers’ Brendan Brooks struck first when the game clock had only ticked into the third minute of play. He was assisted by Philippe Paquet and Mathew Sisca.  Belfast’s David Rutherford brought the Giants level with a goal with just over six minutes left to play in the opening period assisted by Jeff Mason and Colin Shields.

David Rutherford (91) celebrates scoring against the Steelers

David Rutherford (91) happy about scoring

The Flyers’ Justin Fox, then Chase Schaber gave the hosts a 3-1 lead at the end of the first period. Fox netted, assisted by Ryan Dingle and Sebastien Thinel. Then Fife’s player Schaber’s goal came seconds from the end of the period assisted by Russ Moyer and Brendan Brooks.

The Flyers’ Ryan Dingle gave them a three goal cushion with just over two minutes played in the second period with the opening goal of the second period, assisted by Carlo Finucci.

Quesnele-1

The Giants cameback began in earnest with Michael Quesnele firing Belfast’s second of the game, assisted by Brandon Benedict and Matt Towe. Blair Riley brought the Belfast side within one with a powerplay goal, assisted by Chris Higgins and David Rutherford.

Elite Ice Hockey League - Belfast Giants v Edinburgh Capitals

Colin Shields (19) nets for Belfast to tie score

Colin Shields, assisted by David Rutherford grabbed an equalizing goal for Belfast. With the match tied at 4-4 at the end of forty minutes of play it left the third period to find a winner for either team.

Challenge Cup Quarter Final - Belfast Giants v Manchester Storm

Blair Riley (25) always ready to score

The Giants were not finished yet as Blair Riley gave the Giants the lead for the first time in this game. He scored on the Giants’ second powerplay goal of the night, assisted by Michael Forney and Chris Higgins.

 

That score ignited the Flyers who regrouped with Ryan Dingle’s goal, assisted by Kyle Haines levelling the score. With the bit between his teeth Philippe Paquet gave the Flyers a 6-5 lead when he scored assisted by Brendan Brooke and Mathew Sisca.

If the Giants could score on the powerplay then Fife could as well Brendan Brooks netted on a Fife powerplay, assisted by Richard Jackman and Russ Moyer to extend Fife’s lead.

jim-vandermeer-9-jackson-whistle-1-vs-the-storm

Giants pull Whistle (1) for an extra attacker

 

With the Giants desperately in need of a goal, Belfast netminder Jackson Whistle was pulled for the extra out skater and, despite piling pressure on the home side, the Flyers scored an empty net goal in the final minutes of the game through Russ Moyer, assisted by Brendan Brooks. Chase Schaber completed the scoring with the Flyers’ ninth goal of the night.

The next game on the Giants’ agenda could be one of the defining double hitters of the season especially as they are home and in the SSE Arena. After the defeat in Fife, Belfast now sit in second place again, three points behind Cardiff Devils whilst playing one more game than the Devils in the Elite League standings.

The Devils’ visit to yhe SSE Arena is a crucial ‘must win’ double hitter for Belfast if they are going to be successful in their attempt to lift the Elite League Trophy.

The Giants have this week to practice to erase the 5-1 defeat that knocked them out of the final of the Challenge Cup. So, Friday 17th then Saturday 18th February could be Belfast’s chance to restore their hopes of capturing a trophy that has eluded them for the past two years.

 

The Final Score in Fife was the Flyers 9-5 Belfast Giants and the Giants’ Man of the Match went to #25 Blair Riley.

 

Written by Wayne Hardman

 

Images via Martin Waterson and Press Eye

 

Images from

 

 

 

 Elite Ice Hockey League Standings 2016/17
After Games of 12/2/17                  
  GP Regulation OT/PS OT/PS Regulation PTS   Current  
    Wins Wins Losses Losses     Streak  
                   
Cardiff*

40

24

6

3

7

63

 

6 wins

 
Belfast*

41

23

5

4

9

60

 

1 loss

 
Sheffield*

40

23

3

3

11

55

 

1 win

 
Braehead

42

20

1

3

18

45

 

3 wins

 
Nottingham

38

16

3

6

13

44

 

1 loss

 
Fife

40

16

4

3

17

43

 

1 win

 
Manchester

40

15

1

5

19

37

 

1 loss

 
Coventry

42

10

5

3

24

33

 

3 losses

 
Dundee

40

9

4

5

22

31

 

1 win

 
Edinburgh

39

9

4

1

25

27

 

3 losses

 

 

* Qualified for Play-Offs (top 8 qualify)

 

 Gardiner Conference Standings 2016-2017
After games of 12/2/17              
  GP Regulation OT/PS OT/PS Regulation PTS   Current  
    Wins Wins Losses Losses     Streak  
                   
Braehead

25

18

0

1

6

37

 

2 wins

 
Manchester

27

11

1

3

12

27

 

1 loss

 
Fife

24

10

1

3

10

25

 

3 losses

 
Dundee

22

7

3

2

10

22

 

1 win

 
Edinburgh

24

6

4

0

14

20

 

1 loss

 

 

 

 Erhardt Conference Standings 2016-2017
After games of 12/2/17              
  GP Regulation OT/PS OT/PS Regulation PTS   Current  
    Wins Wins Losses Losses     Streak  
                   
Cardiff

24

13

3

3

5

35

 

4 wins

 
Belfast

23

11

4

2

6

32

 

4 wins

 
Sheffield

25

12

1

2

10

28

 

1 loss

 
Nottingham

24

9

2

4

9

26

 

1 loss

 
Coventry

26

2

4

3

17

15

 

6 losses

 

 

 

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