For once, Belfast Giants fall foul of the ice
The massive battle between the Elite League’s top two was put on ice last night.
The freezing weather grounded the Belfast Giants, meaning that their trip to the Nottingham Panthers ended up with an unexpected weekend off.
The odds were well and truly stacked against the Giants getting to Nottingham, as they were left out in the cold.
The decision to shelve the game was taken on Saturday night after the Giants had stretched their lead at the top of the Elite League table to seven points after beating the Edinburgh Capitals 8-3 at the Odyssey.
The club’s title sponsors, Aer Lingus, weren’t flying but,had that not been the case, Heathrow Airport remained closed, meaning they wouldn't have been going anyway.
And even if the plane had taken off and been allowed to land, there was a problem with the coach company, which had refused to travel the 130 miles from the west-London airport to Nottingham anyway.
The clash in Nottingham will now be played on Friday, January 7, when the Giants had been scheduled to have a free weekend.
The Panthers players had been bound for Cardiff on Saturday, but had their journey cut short after being stuck on a motorway for two hours as snow and ice in central England cause traffic chaos.
Giants coach Doug Christiansen won’t have been shedding tears over last night’s postponement.
Much as he’d have had no fear of taking on the Panthers, when the game takes places a fortnight on Friday he will most likely do so with a much stronger line-up.
Brandon Benedict is within touching distance of a return to competitive action, Mark Garside isn’t far away either and Mike Hoffman is expected back in Belfast shortly after having to fly back to the United States for family reasons.
Colin Hemingway isn’t expected to face the Panthers, but is on his way back. Benedict though is preparing to lace up his skates in time to take on Braehead Clan in Glasgow on Boxing night after three months out.
“I felt like I could have played on Saturday night, but the team doctor told me that once I feel I can play, I should give it one more week just to be absolutely sure I am ready,” said Benedict.
“I feel 100 per cent and I am looking forward to getting back in the line-up. It’s been a long time, it feels like my season is just starting.”
The Giants didn’t need Benedict on Saturday. They were able to complete a comfortable victory over Edinburgh with the squad that Christiansen had available to him.
Simon Lambert and Brett Hemingway both struck before the game was four minutes old. Goals from Chris St Jacques and Adam Taylor levelled matters, but the Giants still went into the first break in front thanks to Craig Peacock.
Jeff Hutchins equalised again, but the Giants then showed how good they are by firing home five unanswered goals to leave the Capitals shell shocked.
Josh Prudden and Peacock scored before the end of the second period and in the third Colin Shields, Dan Welch and Jeff Mason were all on the mark to send the Giants into Christmas on top of the pile.