Giants retake top spot after double trouble in Coventry
The Stena Line Belfast Giants climbed back to joint top place together with Nottingham after taking three of the four points on offer in Coventry’s Sky Dome.
However it could have been four out of four as the Giants let a 3-1 score line evaporate after two periods of play. In the third period Coventry leveled the game, which took the encounter into overtime where Brad Leeb completed his hat trick with the game winner.
After a scoreless first period it was not until midway through the second stanza that a strike from Noah Clarke opened their tally. The Blaze’s Dustin Cameron equalized but that spurred a double strike from Andrew Fournier, which gave the Giants a 3-1 lead after two periods.
Early into the third period a powerplay goal from Brad Leeb got Coventry on the right trail. Coventry’s Mike Schutte found the net and the Blaze were now firing on all cylinders.
Lebb slotted home on the powerplay for the second time giving the home team the lead. Coventry ran into penalty trouble and the Giants took advantage of the extra man as Jeff Mason scored tying up the game.
With no further scoring the game went into overtime and Brad Lebb fired home the game winner netting his hat-trick marker to seal the game for Coventry.
The Blazes Coach Paul Thompson said: “After an even first period we gifted Belfast two of their three goals in the second as they capitalized on our turnovers.
I told them what I thought of them at the end of the second period. Good teams react and this is a good team and they did react. We stepped it up to the level.
It was a big night for Brad Leeb who came up with three big goals for us. He may not have been on the board much in recent games but he still contributes to this team.
The brothers, Brad and Greg Leeb are not worried about points at this stage of their careers. They are more worried about contributing to the team.
It was a good game of hockey and it all bodes well for another fantastic night on Sunday” concluded Thompson.
What a different action packed high scoring game it was on Sunday night as it was the Giants who had to come back from a two defect early in the opening period to go top of the league following a 8-5 Victory
With the previous nights overtime loss still fresh in their minds the Giants had a point to prove and from the opening face-off Captain Adam Keefe stated his teams intentions in a big twist after just three seconds on the game clock.
It was then that the encounter took a pugnacious turn. By then Coventry’s Ben Olsen was cooling off with Giants Captain Adam Keefe after the centre ice rumble took place, the first of many on the night.
More controversy involving the Blaze occurred, and in this their second of two home games over the weekend against the Giants they had no fewer than four of their team ejected by referee Andy Carson in a game where they totaled 119 penalty minutes for the Blaze to just 34 to that of the Giants.
The game itself was a goal fest with thirteen net finders and doubles from David Phillips and Noah Clarke of the Giants along with Dustin Cameron of Blaze.
With the Giants having a man in the sin bin, Coventry opened the scoring with a powerplay effort by Matt Beleskey quickly followed by Mike Schutte who fired home their second score.
Then it was the Giants turn with Noah Clarke then Daymen Rycroft leveled midway through the opening period. Further eruptions then took place, as Brad Leeb was the first ejection on a 10+ game for abuse of an official.
Andrew Fournier shot Giants into the lead just before a major blow up where some 71 penalty minutes were called including four fighting majors, a fighting match penalty on Mike Egener of Blaze and a game misconduct for 3rd man in for Blaze goaltender Peter Hirsch.
With three players sent to the locker room for an early shower, 17 year old Coventry net minder, Adam Gross, took his place between Coventry’s pipes, and recording his first minutes in the Elite League. The young net minder repeatedly performed heroics throughout the game turning away 35 of the 40 shots he faced.
During the second period, Giants Darryl Lloyd extended the Giants lead before Keefe and Olson fought again with Olson being ejected for his third fight of the game.
Cameron then pulled one back for the home team but twenty-eight seconds later Giants regained their two-goal lead again thanks to Matt Towe.
David Phillips then made it 6-3 but Blaze were not giving up and Cameron reduced the leeway. The period scoring still was not finished as Noah Clarke scored his second to leave Giants 7-4 ahead after two periods of play.
A quieter third period, perhaps understandably saw Greg Leeb scoring Blaze’s fifth and David Phillips completed the scoring for Giants at 8-5 to end quite a night at the Sky Dome!
Doug Christiansen had this to say; “ I told our team to keep their discipline over the weekend because they (Coventry) certainly have a few loose canons on their team.
This became apparent when Greg Stewart engaged first Steve Chambers, then Mike Eqener. Suddenly Ben Olson jumped in followed by Coventry Goalie Hirsch after leaving his goal crease to be third man in.
Those ejections helped the Giants but keeping their discipline was far more important as they kept their shape and game plan intact”.
Doug finished by commenting, “ I was to glad to see Davey Philips get his two goals and an assist after the torrid time he had here in Coventry last season. It also helped to ease his tension that he encountered throughout all of last season’s campaign at the Sky Dome,” finished Christiansen.
The top three teams (Nottingham, Sheffield and Belfast) are having a break next weekend because of the number of key players supplied to Team GB. Doug Christiansen with David Philips, Stephen Murphy, Mark Garside and Craig Peacock all fly out on Tuesday to Japan for the IIHF pre-qualifier.
Written by Wayne Hardman
Elite Ice Hockey League Standings 2012-2013
Belfast 15 9 1 3 2 23
Nottingham 15 8 3 1 3 23
Sheffield 16 6 4 1 5 21
Cardiff 14 6 1 3 4 17
Coventry 13 3 3 3 4 15
Braehead 12 4 2 1 5 13
Dundee 12 3 2 2 5 12
Hull 11 4 0 3 4 11
Fife 12 3 1 0 8 8
Edinburgh 12 2 1 1 8 7