Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Giants tie with Manchester Storm in Challenge Cup quarter-final first leg

Belfast Giants fought back from a two-goal deficit to earn a 3-3 draw away against Manchester Storm in the first leg of the Challenge Cup quarter final.

Stephen Murphy got the start in the Giants net with Ryan Martinelli still missing from the lineup through injury.

The opening period in Manchester was the story of Stephen Murphy with the Giants netminder producing a string of stellar saves. Murphy denied Storm multiple times and was the main reason the game remained scoreless after 20 minutes.

The deadlock was broken with only 89 seconds gone in the second period as the home side took the lead.

Storm captain Trevor Johnson found himself all alone in front of the Giants net and picked up the loose puck and fired home for the first goal of the game.

Little over two minutes later and the scores were level. Blair Riley controlled the puck in the Manchester zone, passed off to Derrick Walser who fed the puck to Mason for a nice finish past Spanswick in the Storm goal.

The home side once again took the lead and their second goal was a mirror image of the Storm’s first. Mario Valery-Trabucco picked up the puck at close range and squeezed it past Murphy to give his side a 2-1 advantage at 26:04.

At 28:43, it was 3-1. This time it came on a five-on-three powerplay when Cody Cartier’s shot flew wide of the net but rebounded off the backboards and fell fortunately to Matt Bissonnette who could not miss the gaping goal.

The Giants stepped up their intensity following the Storm’s third goal and the visitors were back to within one at 37:20. James Desmarais created space for himself in the corner and found Steve Saviano who fired the puck into the Storm goal for the Giants second of the night.

Belfast got the game-tying goal almost mid-way through the final period. The goal came after nice work from Matt Nickerson, finding Chris Higgins skating in on the Manchester goal who shot home past Spanswick at 48:31.

No more goals in this first leg and the game will go back to Belfast for the second leg on Tuesday 20th December at the SSE Arena.

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