Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Giants put the frighteners on title rivals Braehead

Belfast Giants 4 Braehead Clan 1

By Stuart McKinley

The Belfast Giants crushed Braehead Clan at the Odyssey last night to leapfrog the Galsgow side and hit the top of the Elite League table.

The battle between the league's top two teams was set up as a Halloween thriller, but in truth once the Giants got themselves in front there was no fear that the outcome of the game was going to be anything other than a home victory.

And although they are only in front of Clan on goal difference, it was the performance of the Giants team that sent out a frightening message that will scare the rest of the Elite League - especially coming just 24 hours after they announced the signing of former NHL heavyweight Kevin Westgarth.

The new boy wasn't on the ice last night as Clan forced a couple of early saves from Giants goaltender Stephen Murphy. Matt Keith went close for Braehead before Jeff Mason forced a good save from Clan goaltender Kyle Jones.

Calvin Elfring, David Phillips, and Mason all put the Braehead goalie under pressure before Craig Peacock rattled a shot off the pipework as the Giants began to take control of the game.

The breakthrough finally came two and a half minutes before the end of the first period when Robby Sandrock sent the puck forward to Ray Sawada, who sent a great pass across the front of the goal and Colin Shields was on hand to tap it home.

Braehead pushed for an equaliser early in the second period, but two quickfire goals from the Giants a few minutes in effectively won the game with just 25 minutes gone.

First Peacock got the end of his stick on Phillips shot to double the lead at 24:15 and then, just 34 seconds later, Phillips was involved again, sending the puck into the danger area again, with Kevin Saurette this time putting it into the net.

Phillips was involved in everything at this stage and he was sent to the penalty box for tripping, forcing the Giants to kill a penalty, during which Murphy was worked hard.

Murphy was in action again when Evan Cheverie was sent to the box, with the Giants penalty- killing unit doing their job both times.

Phillips then clashed with Clan's Derek Roehl after being on the end of a vicious hit five minutes into the third period. He landed a number of blows on his opponent, which got the 4,000 crowd off their feet. Roehl was thrown out of the game on a game misconduct penalty, while Phillips was punished for instigating the fight, despite the hit.

The Giants restarted the game on a lenghty powerplay and that was when Peacock added the fourth goal.

Cheverie and Saurette had set him up to fire the puck high into the net at 48:31.

A tripping penalty handed out to Cheverie then led to Braehead scoring the consolation goal that broke Murphy's shut-out.

There was just less than four minutes left on the clock when Zack Fitzgerald and Neill Trimm combined and Stefan Meyer finished the move.

Braehead have the opportunity to move back to the top when they face Dundee tonight, before the Giants head to Coventry tomorrow evening.

Belfast Telegraph

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