Giant stride towards glory as Walser’s men hit front for first time
Belfast Giants 6 Dundee Stars 3
There was no Challenge Cup hangover for the Belfast Giants as they moved to the top of the Elite League table for the first time this season.
They responded to their semi-final defeat against the Cardiff Devils on Wednesday night by beating the Dundee Stars 6-3 at the SSE Arena and the two points has moved them above the Welsh side in the standings.
Although the Devils have two games in hand, the first of those coming against Coventry Blaze tonight, the Giants reaction has shown that they have the mental strength for the title race.
It wasn’t, however, until the third period that they took control of last night’s game.
In fact Dundee gave as good as they got for most of the first period before the Giants took the lead at 10:59 when Colin Shields and James Desmarais set up the chance and player/coach Derrick Walser pounced on a rebound to score.
They were only ahead for 63 seconds though as Dundee produced a swift response, Justin Faryna scoring.
A bad line change saw Dundee called for having too many players on the ice a minute before the end of the first period and the Giants took full advantage.
Mike Forney moved the puck to David Rutherford and he found Blair Riley standing at the back door and he finished with barely a second left of the period.
Dundee levelled just before the midway point of the second period, Cale Tanaka beating Murphy after Joey Sides and Cameron McGiffin had combined.
The Giants regained the lead 65 seconds later through Rutherford, after Alex Foster and Brandon Benedict had set him up.
Dundee drew level again at 15:35, but in somewhat controversial circumstances. Faryna tapped home after being set up by Kevin Hart and Giants players immediately surrounded referee Dean Smith, claiming that Riley had been impeded.
Three goals in nine minutes during the third period won the game for the Giants.
Mike Quesnele pounced on the rebound from Matt Nickerson’s shot to put the Giants in front again at 48:41.
Jim Vandermeer cracked home the Giants’ fifth from distance at 54:18 and, when Dundee pulled their goaltender in the final minute, Foster made it six of the best with an empty-net goal.