Belfast Giants striding towards play-off glory
Cardiff Devils 3 - Belfast Giants 7
Steve Thornton is on course to lift a third Play-off title with the Belfast Giants after leading the team to a thumping quarter-final victory over the Cardiff Devils.
They took a slender 1-0 lead to Wales for last night's second leg tie and then simply blew away the Devils with a fantastic performance and they will now play Coventry Blaze in the semi-finals next Saturday.
Two goals in the first period, through Craig Peacock and Cody Brookwell, followed by three more in the second period, this time Adam Keefe, Nathan Robinson and Mark Garside were on target, had the Giants firmly in the driving seat, despite Cardiff scoring once in each 20 minutes.
The Devils got another one back in the third period and then began to chase the game, taking goaltender Ben Bowns out of the net to go for broke, but the Giants fired into the empty net twice to complete the resounding victory.
Thornton, who played in the Giants 2003 Play-off success and then won it again as coach in 2010 during his first spell in charge of the Giants, is delighted that he can now aim for a hat-trick.
"The win was well deserved I thought on Friday night," said Thornton.
"It was tough to be coming in here with only the one goal lead, but we finished every hit, we took their time and space away. It's worked for them all season and it worked for us.
"I was very happy, I thought every line developed some chemistry. The defence were willing to take a hit to make a play. Carsen (Chubak) made some big saves and you could tell there was a lot of positivity on the bench."
The Giants pounced on their first powerplay of the game to add to their aggregate lead. Peacock netting his 24th goal of the season with Evan Cheverie and Ray Sawada assisting at 7:10.
It was 2-0 on the night six minutes later when Brookwell turning in Robinson's pass.
Joey Martin got one back on the powerplay towards the end of the first period, but the Giants really took hold of the game in the second.
Keefe and Robinson scored within a minute of each other (22:47 and 23:43) in the early stages after defensive errors and although Brent Walton got one back for the Devils on a powerplay just 43 seconds later the period ended with the Giants 6-2 ahead on aggregate after Garside scored at 27:34.
The Giants frustrated Cardiff throughout the third period before Andrew Hothman gave them a glimmer of hope, but that was extinguished when they pulled Bowns and Kompon, Garside scoring to give the scoreline an even more one-sided look.
"It was a good win for us, we haven't won anything yet, but we are two wins away and we're going to the finals, which was our goal," said Thornton.
"It is going to be a fun weekend. We have a week of preparation and we are playing against a team that has really torn it up down the stretch, they have a goalie that can steal a game so we are going to have to have a good week of practice and be ready for the big one on Saturday," he added.