The Giant Sting the Rays 3-1 in Hull
The Stena Line Belfast Giants will have a two goal advantage in the second leg of this quarter final tie on the 29th of the month after coming out on top in Humberside.
After clawing out a one goal lead in the first period they added another two – three minutes apart in the second period to take control of the game.
The only thing that separated either team in the opening period was a goal by Andrew Fournier late in the session to open the Giants account with a one goal lead.
It looked as though it was still going to be the same score line coming up to the hooter after the middle stanza. Some how Belfast struck twice in three minutes to give themselves a three goal lead.
The first of these came from the stick of Sam Roberts and just before the end of the period Noah Clarke scored with just fourteen seconds left to play on the game clock.
That made Giants coach and team a happier unit going into the locker room with a three goal lead. The Stingrays weren’t finished yet pulling one back seven minutes into the last period from the stick of Tom Squires. However, try as they might to get another back they could not find a way past the Giants rear-guard.
So the Hull Stingrays have it all to do to advance to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup after the 3-1 loss to Belfast Giants in the first leg in Hull Arena.
Belfast’s goalie Stephen Murphy pulled off two fantastic first-period saves to deny Dominic Osman before Andrew Fournier put the Giants ahead very late in the opening period.
Tom Squires could have had a bigger goal tally after hitting the crossbar for Stingrays just before the interval. Stingray’s goaltender, Ben Bowns, showed why he is part of the GB Senior Ice Hockey team travelling to Latvia in the new year after prevented Daymen Rycroft from doubling Giants’ lead after the break.
However the two markers inside the final three minutes of the second period from Sam Roberts and Noah Clarke put Giants in control.
Hull’s Tom Squires pulled a goal back for Stingrays in the third period but they could not get a second as they fell to a sixth successive defeat.
They now head to Belfast on December 29 for the return leg bidding to overturn a two-goal deficit.
Hull’s player-coach, Sylvain Cloutier stated “We had a great first period and had our chances. You have to take them against a team like Belfast. If you capitalize on them then it is a different game.
They had a bit of luck with a couple of goals and we did not play that bad a game. But you cannot afford to miss those kind of chances.
It is an uphill task now and we need our key guys to bear down. We have to focus and be ready to go for the second leg in Belfast.
We need to turn our form around but we have to keep plugging away and stay positive. The only way we will get out of this is to stick together.”
So the Giants regain their winning ways readying themselves for the Coventry Blazes visit on Friday Night in the Odyssey Arena.
Written by Wayne Hardman