Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Massive win for Giants in fight for Elite crown

Any doubts over the Giants’ ability to stay the course in the battle for the Elite League crown have been cast aside.

The final question marks weren’t just wiped out, they were obliterated completely thanks to a 4-0 victory over the Cardiff Devils on Saturday night.

The game had everything —a powerplay goal and short-handed strikes as the game-breakers came out to play. There was outstanding goal-tending and a willingness to fight — literally — for the cause.

Sometimes it’s not just winning, it’s the manner of the win that sends out the bigger message and the Giants couldn’t have shouted their intention to battle all the way to the end in the fight to be crowned champions any louder.

The fact that Doug Christiansen’s men will also head to Cardiff next week for the second-leg of the Challenge Cup semi-final four goals to the good was merely a bonus — with Saturday’s match counting towards both league and cup. Key individuals did their jobs and when that happens the team effort takes care of itself.

When the Devils tried to bully the Giants, Mike Hoffman threw off his gloves and took on Brad Voth. Dan Welch stepped up too, going toe-to-toe with Tylor Michel to show that the Giants weren’t going to be pushed around.

When goals were needed after almost two full periods of stalemate, first Brett Hemingway fired home his 22nd of the season — on a powerplay — and then Simon Lambert’s 12th goal in 17 appearances gave Cardiff a lot of work to do.

The short-handed goals from Jeff Mason and Jon Gleed in the third period just iced the cake.

Goaltender Stephen Murphy frustrated the life out of the Devils, with Christiansen labelling one particular stop as ‘the save of the season’, and he’s coming into top form at just the right time of the year.

“It was a massive win for us,” said Christiansen.

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