Belfast Giants back in the groove
Dundee Stars 0 Belfast Giants 2
Doug Christiansen praised the attitude and commitment of his players after the Belfast Giants emerged from a traumatic week by turning up the pressure on the Nottingham Panthers in the Elite League title race.
The team – who this time last week walked away from their contracts before re-signing under a new ownership structure on Monday – put the issues surrounding the takeover by shamed American businessman Christopher Knight behind them as they claimed a 2-0 win over the Dundee Stars to move to within two points of the Panthers.
Kevin Saurette scored the opener early in the first period and there was a piece of history attached to the second goal from Jeff Mason, with Colin Shields claiming the assist to become the Giants' all-time highest points scorer in the process.
With Great Britain goaltender Stephen Murphy on the bench as he closes in on a comeback his stand-in Garrett Zemlak provided a bonus by showing that he isn't ready to give up his place lightly as he recorded a shut-out.
"The one thing that I have tried to do all week is focus myself and the players on the job that we have to do, which is playing and winning matches," said Christiansen.
"We weren't at our best, but we did our job and we did it properly and professionally.
"Defensively we were sound, we made good decisions with the puck and after all that has gone on I am happy with the win."
There was 51 minutes between the goals and although the Giants out-shot the home team by a ratio of 2:1 in the first two periods they couldn't relax until Mason's strike just over five minutes from the end.
The Giants took full advantage of their first powerplay of the game, when Dundee coach, former Giants Jeff Hutchins, was punished for cross checking.
Craig Peacock and Robby Sandrock moved the puck between them before supplying a pass for Saurette and he netted his ninth goal of the season at 3:04.
Staying out of the penalty box – there were only minor penalties handed out to captain Adam Keefe and Zemlak during the game – helped the Giants cause and they didn't over stretch themselves with a home game against the Sheffield Steelers tomorrow night and a trip to Cardiff on Sunday to come.
They were able to coast home though when Matt Towe and Shields set up Mason to finish at 54:24.
That assist takes Shields to 337 points in his Giants career, one ahead of former captain George Awada.
"It is great, given the number of quality players who have come through this club, that Colin Shields has becoming the all-time leader in points," said Christiansen.
"It's a phenomenal accomplishment for him, particularly passing a great player like George Awada and he deserves it."