Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Belfast Giants show hunger in Panthers’ den

Nottingham Panthers 2 Belfast Giants 2: The Belfast Giants have sent an early statement of intent to the rest of the Elite League that they are determined to hold on to their title.

Despite losing a penalty shoot-out to the Nottingham Panthers last night, the Giants 5-3 win in Saturday night’s first half of the weekend double-header gave Doug Christiansen’s team a total of three points from their opening two league games.

And with Nottingham expected to be involved in the title races over the next six months, the Giants have laid down an early marker.

“Anyone who knows anything about this league knows how hard it is to win in Nottingham,” said Christiansen.

“For us to go into their building and come out with more points than them is an achievement.

“The players showed me that they care about winning, they were competitive right throughout the two games and they showed me signs that those things will be there all season.

“We also have the talent in the team to win a lot of games.”

The Giants weren’t going to let Nottingham get revenge for dishing out that defeat on Sunday night without a fight — literally.

Former Giant Brandon Benedict clashed with Adam Keefe early in the first period, with the current Giants’ captain taking the honours.

After a deadlocked first period the Giants struck on the powerplay just 83 seconds into the second period. Robby Sandrock announced his return to the Belfast colours with a trademark slapshot — the type of goal he became known for during his previous spell with the club.

It was on a powerplay of their own, when Daymen Rycroft was punished for hooking, that Nottingham levelled at 24:07, with Robert Lachowicz scoring to tie the game.

The Giants failed to take advantage of a powerplay opportunity early in the third period as they took the game to the Panthers, but they finally beat Craig Kowalski at 46:34.

Davey Phillips brought the puck forward and sent in on to Andrew Fournier, who found Scott Champagne and he netted his second goal of the weekend.

The Giants managed to hold out during a five-on-three powerplay midway through the third period, but just before they were due to return to full strength Matt

Francis struck to make it 2-2 and send the game to overtime.

Neither team could find a winner, which meant a penalty shoot-out.

Craig Peacock scored first for the Giants, while Panthers’ David Ling missed.

Noah Clarke and Fournier both failed for the Giants and with Francis levelling Pat Galivan hit the winner for Nottingham.

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