Belfast Telegraph

Mike Radja holds his nerve as Belfats Giants see off Manchester Storm

Manchester Storm 1 - Belfast Giants 1 (Giants win 1-0 on penalties)

By Stuart McKinley

The Belfast Giants came through a marathon penalty shoot-out to beat Manchester Storm and move into second place in the Elite League table.

After the 60 minutes ended with the teams locked at 1-1, overtime failed to produce a winner, which meant the lottery of a penalty competition.

And that looked like it could go on all night after the first 17 shots all failed to find the net.

Finally, in the sixth round of sudden-death shots - after the regulation three apiece were all saved - Mike Radja showed everyone else how it should be done when he beat Storm goaltender Zane Kalemba to win the game.

The dramatic end to the game matched the thrilling beginning to the night.

After making a flying start it was no surprise that Storm were first to score - the real shock was that it took them so long to do so.

Latvian defenceman Ricards Birzinsh slammed the puck past Stephen Murphy at 3:45 to score his first goal for the club and raise the noise level among the home fans.

The Giants started the second period on a powerplay - after Kalemba had been punished for delaying the game in the final minute of the first period - and they made the numerical advantage count within just 41 seconds as Colin Shields struck the equaliser.

Both teams came close to scoring a go-ahead goal in the remainder of the second period, but the rival goaltenders both made outstanding saves to keep the score down.

The third period went the same way with end-to-end action but no goals as Kalemba and Murphy again pulled out all the stops, before Radja was finally able to find the net.

The two points sees the Giants move back into second place behind the Cardiff Devils, who won 6-4 at Coventry Blaze.

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