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Belfast Giants celebrate 1,000th game with victory thanks to Riley's late double

By Stuart McKinley

Published 19/09/2016

Big moment: Blair Riley struck twice late on as the Giants defeated Dundee Stars 5-3
Big moment: Blair Riley struck twice late on as the Giants defeated Dundee Stars 5-3

Blair Riley made it a grand night for the Belfast Giants as his two late goals sealed a 5-3 victory over the Dundee Stars in his team's landmark 1,000th game.

It wasn't, however, as straightforward a triumph as it looked like it was going to be after 25 minutes.

The Giants led 3-1 at that stage, but a second-period fightback saw the Stars level the scoreline and they then had a goal chalked off early in the third before Riley struck twice in the final couple of minutes to make it a real night of celebration for the Giants.

Two goals in as many minutes put the Giants in the driving seat at the end of the first period.

The deadlock was broken at 13:42, 30 seconds into a powerplay that saw the Giants have a four-on-three advantage.

Giants' Riley and Dundee's Joey Sides were joined in the penalty box by Felix Poulin. Giants player-coach Derrick Walser made full use of the space on the ice as he tucked away Brandon Benedict's pass at 13:42.

The lead was doubled just short of two minutes later when James Desmarais provided the assist for David Rutherford to score.

Dundee's next penalty actually led to them getting back into the game. Craig Moore was punished for delaying the game just 44 seconds into the second period and a minute later Poulin was sent through by Cale Tanaka to score short handed.

Walser was involved in the goal that restored the Giants two-goal lead at 25:37. He began the move that went through Riley before Chris Higgins finished off.

Dundee could have crumbled at that stage, but when Alex Foster was sent to the penalty box they cut the lead to a single goal again just 80 seconds after the Giants' third goal.

This time Tanaka was the man to provide the finish following good work by Sides and Justin Faryna.

The Stars revival brought them level 75 seconds before the end of the second period. Sides was the provider again, sending Tommaso Traversa's feed on to Vinny Scarsella who put the puck past Stephen Murphy.

After twice being two goals down the Stars thought they had taken the lead shortly after the start of the second period. Celebrations were, however, cut short by referee Steve Brown.

Both teams had their chances throughout the third period, but it looked like overtime would be needed to separate the teams before Riley struck just 77 seconds from the final hooter, with Benedict and Mike Forney getting the assists.

Dundee called a time out and pulled goaltender Joe Fallon for one final, extra push.

But they couldn't find an equaliser and instead the Giants made certain of victory when Riley scored into the empty net with 10 seconds to go.

Belfast Telegraph

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