Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Belfast Giants hit nine to reach last four

Dundee Stars 0 Belfast Giants 9 (Giants win 14-0 on aggregate): The Belfast Giants sent out a major statement of intent on Sunday night as they stormed into next weekend’s Play-off finals at the expense of shell-shocked Dundee Stars.

And made a little piece of history in the process.

Fresh from beating the Scottish side 5-0 at the Odyssey on Saturday night, the Giants trounced Dundee 9-0 in the second leg of their quarter-final tie last night to show that they mean business in pursuit of another trophy.

Doug Christiansen’s side will now enter the Final Four weekend in Nottingham as favourites to add the Play-off title to their Elite League championship crown after pulling off the highest scoring win without conceding a goal in the club’s history and their 50th victory of the season.

The Cardiff Devils will stand in their way in the semi-finals on Saturday, with the winners then facing an Easter Sunday meeting with either hosts and holders Nottingham or the Hull Stingrays who produced a shock by knocking the Sheffield Steelers out of the Play-offs after winning 5-2 at Ice Sheffield last night.

There was no way Dundee — who took the final Play-off spot by finishing eighth in the Elite League — were ever going to overturn a five-goal deficit to stun the Giants in the same way.

Any lingering doubt was wiped out within 27 seconds of the face-off, as that’s how long it took Aaron Clarke to open the scoring after he was set up by Tom Dignard and Nick Kuiper.

What was always going to be a long night for Dundee was made even harder when Clarke struck again at 2:33 to make it 2-0 on the night and 7-0 on aggregate.

There wasn’t a single penalty awarded in the first period, but there were two more Giants goals as Mark Garside and Craig Peacock both scored to pile the agony onto the Stars.

There was no let-up from the Giants either as they scored two more in the second period.

Garside and Ryan Crane — recalled to the line-up in place of Adam Keefe — provided Darryl Lloyd with the chance to score the fifth of the game at 27:39 and five minutes later Clarke and Peacock created the chance for Robert Dowd to fire into the net.

Then came something to get the home fans interested as a four-man brawl, with Kuiper and Lloyd taking on Dundee’s Brent Turner and Jeff Hutchins, was sparked and the quartet all sat out the next five minutes.

With the game in the bag Christiansen then handed back-up goaltender Andrew Dickson a large chunk of action as Stephen Murphy took a rest just before the midway point of the game.

There was still more to come from the Giants as Mike Hoffman scored unassisted at 43:39 to rack up the seventh of the night and almost immediately Belfast man Gareth Roberts scored number eight.

Although the two power play opportunities that the Giants had earlier — and the third that came towards the end of the game — didn’t bring about a goal, Robert Dowd then notched his 40th of the season short-handed to complete the rout.

There was still 13 minutes to go but the Giants spared netminder Chris Whitley the embarrassment of conceding double figures.

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