Belfast Giants partying at Dundonald
Belfast Giants 5 Coventry Blaze 1
Dundonald became Fun-donald for the Belfast Giants last night.
The team revelled in their home from home at the Ice Bowl to put one foot in the semi-final of the British Knockout Cup.
The fans really shouldn't have had to wait another 24 hours until tonight's second-leg in Coventry.
The Giants scored five with the Blaze pulling one back late on, but had the scoreline been doubled there could have been no complaints from the visitors.
Still, barring a remarkable collapse Steve Thornton will close in on his first trophy as a coach, but Blaze should have been out of sight after 60 minutes last night as they struggled to get used to the strange surroundings.
Evan Cheverie's powerplay finish to open the scoring after ten minutes owed so much to his judgement, collecting the puck on the right side of the goal and putting it into the net from a very tight angle via the goaltender's back.
If Coventry has planned a comeback in the second period those plans were ripped up after just 24 seconds when the
Giants doubled the lead - this time short handed with Cheverie in the penalty box. Paul Deniset crashed home the puck for his 25th goal of the season to really get the Ice Bowl rocking. When Steve Thornton got the tip of his stick onto Mike Burgoyne's shot from the blue line during a powerplay five minutes later the 1,000 or so fans inside the building made it sound like a full house at the Odyssey as the semi-finals moved closer.
Mike Burgoyne's strike five minutes into the final period was the signal for Coventry to change their goaltender and replacement Steve Fone prevented a landslide.
He couldn't stop Cheverie's second goal three minutes after coming on and although Dan Carlson reduced the arrears seven minutes from the end Coventry's chances of turning things around this evening appear slim.