Belfast Giants back in goal routine
Belfast Giants 6 Fife Flyers 3: Doug Christiansen's Belfast Giants returned to winning ways last night with the first of what the coach hopes will be three wins in as many nights this weekend.
And his message to the players after their 6-3 victory over the Fife Flyers at the Odyssey was 'now let's beat Cardiff.'
After falling to defeats against Braehead Clan and Coventry Blaze last night, Christiansen was looking for a response — and he got it.
The challenge now is to take another two Elite League points when the Cardiff Devils come to the Odyssey tonight.
In a game littered with penalties it was hard for either team to build up any rhythm, but the positive part of that was that there were plenty of powerplays and they brought about plenty of goals.
Jon Pelle rediscovered his goalscoring form — he'd hit a dry spell after scoring five times in his first two games — when he put the Giants into an early lead after three-and-a-half minutes.
An interference penalty had been given against Fife goaltender Garrett Zemlak, handing the Giants and early powerplay and after fine interplay from Benoit Doucet and Jeff Mason, Pelle gave the Flyers the full punishment
Ironically it was after another interference penalty that Fife levelled the scores.
The Giants were just 13 seconds away from killing the penalty, given against Aaron Clarke, when Steve McAlpine received the puck from Andrew Samuel and fired it past Stephen Murphy.
The Giants powerplay, which has regularly frustrated the fans in the past, clicked again two-and-a-half minutes into the second period.
The white jerseys poured forward and after Craig Peacock (pictured) fought for the puck in the corner, Mark Garside sent it into the centre where George Awada got the finishing touch.
Benoit Doucet and Clarke fired in shots from distance as the Giants tried to stretch their lead, but they weren't of the quality required to beat Zemlak.
A period of sustained pressure from the Giants followed. Every time Fife cleared the puck out of their own zone it was come straight back at them at speed and they struggled to keep possession.
The Belfast men weren't able to convert that pressure into a goal though and they were relieved when Murphy came to the rescue of Robert Dowd as the game hit its midway point. After chasing the puck around the back of his own net the Englishman lost control right in front of an opponent and his blushes were spared by a fine save.
The Giants then started to build up a head of steam as they put the game beyond the reach of Fife with two goals in as many minutes.
On 31 minutes Doucet struck from close range to make it 3-1 and with the powerplay really working Tom Dignard picked up Peacock's pass on the blueline and sent a slapshot flying into the net past a hapless Zemlak for the Giants fourth.
Darryl Lloyd pulled out a great finish for the fifth goal. Collecting a pass from Adam Keefe he skated into the Fife zone, controlling the puck with both sides of his stick before firing a rip-roaring shot flying into the visitors net.
That looked to be it for Fife, but they managed a late rally thanks to two five-on-three penalties – which came as the knock-on effect of Keefe being sent from the ice. He was handed seven minutes worth of penalties – two minutes for roughing and five for fighting - and a game misconduct after clashing with Matt Siddall.
With James Hutchinson already in the penalty box Fife took advantage of of their two-man advantage as Mike Hamilton scored and when Lloyd was done for holding Matt Cohen narrowed the score to 5-3.
Doucet made sure there was not going to be a nervy finish when he finished superbly from a tight angle to net the Giants sixth of the night, his second and 13th of the season.