Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Belfast Giants storm on with winning run

Maybe the Belfast Giants should start inventing a crisis every week.

Ten days ago the club was rocked by a major issue surrounding the ownership – and the response from the players has been amazing.

They have now clocked up four successive victories and that has ensured the Giants hang onto the coattails of the Nottingham Panthers at the top of the Elite League table.

And they have had to do things the hard way.

The Giants were 2-0 down after less than two minutes of last night's clash with the Cardiff Devils, but the character of the players, which has never been in question throughout the collapse of Christopher Knight's takeover, shone through in spades as they took a 4-1 lead before winning the game 5-3.

The Panthers lead is now just two points and although they have a match in hand everything is now building towards a massive double-header between the two main title protagonists at the Odyssey next month.

The Giants' title hopes had looked to be fading when they conceded goals in the first and second minutes in Cardiff.

Max Birbraer netted with just 49 seconds gone and the lead was doubled less than a minute later by Josh Batch.

The thrilling start to the game continued when Darryl Lloyd – who also scored in the 3-1 home win over the Sheffield Steelers on Saturday night – fired home his 15th goal of the season to put the Giants back into the game.

And they were back in the title race too when they hit two goals in each of the second and third periods to make this their third longest winning run of the season.

Mark Garside, who had assisted on Lloyd's goal, skated out of his own zone while on a penalty kill and after Chris Whitley saved his shot Chad Langlais swept the rebound into the net, while Kevin Saurette served the first of three penalties on the night.

The Giants took the lead with a Robby Sandrock powerplay goal at 34:21 and then went 4-2 up when Noah Clarke netted his 17th of the season seven minutes into the third period.

Cardiff threatened a comeback when Stuart MacRae pulled one back just over a minute after Clarke's strike, but Langlais made sure there was no nervy finale for the Giants when he made it a high five six minutes from the end.

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