Belfast Giants urged to dominate
Belfast Giants 3 Hull Stingrays 0: Paul Adey kept his Belfast Giants players level-headed after they moved 21 points clear at the top of the Elite League table by telling them that he wants to open up an even bigger gap on the teams trying to catch them.
That will be the motivation tonight when they will aim to follow up last night's 3-0 win over the Hull Stingrays by beating the Fife Flyers at the Odyssey Arena.
The Giants were made to work for their win by the Stingrays and it wasn't until Chris Higgins scored the third nine minutes from the end that the points were secured.
All three Giants goals came on powerplays as a short-benched Hull team struggled when playing a man down.
Jeff Mason scored the first in the dying seconds of the first period and then Dustin Whitecotton and Higgins scored just 82 seconds apart to seal the win.
It was goaltender Stephen Murphy who was the big hero though, as he made 30 saves to record his fifth career shut-out against the Hull Stingrays and also added another to his record tally for the Giants.
"It's a big lead, but we still have to try to keep building on it, we still have to try to keep picking up points to keep those teams behind us," said Adey.
"A couple of them have games in hand so it's important for us to keep playing well and again this was a big game.
"Hull played well. They stuck to their game plan and tried to stay in the game.
"We were dominating the game, of course, but sometimes that's the way you have to play on the road when you are missing a couple guys.
"They made it tough on us, but we managed, in the end, to pick up a couple of big goals in the third period to win the game."
After a tight and tense first period, in which Hull protected their own zone as much as they could, the Giants went in front at 19:33.
Hull had Matthew Davies sent to the penalty box and just seven seconds before he was due to return to the ice Whitecotton and Colin Shields created the opening for Mason to score.
The second period was one of frustration for the Giants as they met with a stubborn Stingrays defence and when they did manage to find a way through goaltender Ben Bowns was proving unbeatable.
Murphy needed to be on top form too in order to prevent Hull from levelling and there was a couple of very nervy moments.
The tension didn't ease until another powerplay, this time with Nikolai Ladygin taking a penalty, led to the Giants second goal at 49:56, with Calvin Elfring and Shields setting up Whitecotton for his 17th goal of the season.
The 4,000 strong crowd had only just settled back into their seats when Higgins scored the third – also on a powerplay – to make the points safe.
Adey reserved special praise for his goaltenders' man-of-the-match display.
"He's a great goalie, there is no question about it," he said.
"He reads the play so well and just seems to know where the puck is moving all the time and he gets into great positions.
"It's a big shut-out. It's a tricky game for a goalie because he didn't get a lot of shots and there wasn't a lot of pressure on us."