The Belfast Giants moved back to the top of the Elite League table last night - and in some style too.
Fresh from a 4-3 victory over the Edinburgh Capitals at the Odyssey Arena on Saturday evening, Steve Thornton’s men fired an impressive eight goals past a stunned Basingstoke Bison side last night to join the Nottingham Panthers at the summit.
And significantly for Thornton, who immediately set about securing the best British talent available when he took the coaching role in Belfast last Spring, six of the eight goals in the 8-1 victory were scored by players born in the UK, including a hat-trick for Scottish winger Colin Shields. He finished the weekend with four goals to take him to the top of the scoring charts.
Shields was quick off the mark last night, scoring twice in the opening ten minutes, which gave the Giants the foundations on which to build their biggest win of the season so far.
They had doubled the lead before the end of the first period, with both Paul Deniset and Saturday night’s man-of-the-match Shane Johnson netting on the powerplay to effectively win the game in the opening spell.
It didn’t take Shields long to complete his treble as he netted the first goal of the second period to rule out any chance there might have been of the Bison mounting a comeback.
Mark Morrison was enjoying plenty of ice time and he made that count by scoring his first goal of the season to put the Giants 6-0 in front soon after.
Although they were down, the Bison weren’t totally out of the game as Shaun Thompson gave the home fans some small cheer when he struck what was merely a consolation effort for Basingstoke.
But it was no surprise that the Giants’ seventh goal came when Paul Sample found the net.
And when Graeme Walton banged in number eight for his first goal of the season, he showed his appetite for the scoring fray. More goals from throughout the team can be expected as they pursue their title ambition.