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Belfast Giants battle through short bench as Scott Conway hat-trick leads them to comfortable win over Nottingham Panthers

Belfast Giants 7 Nottingham Panthers 2


Belfast Giants' Scott Conway celebrates scoring his hat-trick against the Nottingham Panthers (William Cherry/Presseye)

Belfast Giants' Scott Conway celebrates scoring his hat-trick against the Nottingham Panthers (William Cherry/Presseye)

William Cherry/Presseye

Belfast Giants' Scott Conway celebrates scoring his hat-trick against the Nottingham Panthers (William Cherry/Presseye)

Down five bodies due to injury or suspension and playing with two 17-year-olds on their third line? No problem for the Belfast Giants.

It was a British barrage that led them to a rampant 7-2 win over the Nottingham Panthers at the SSE Arena on Sunday evening, Scott Conway firing in a hat-trick and Lewis Hook adding a double to get the job done on home ice.

On what was supposed to be a tough night for the Giants, they made things look remarkably easy as they also saw Tyler Soy grab his first goal since October 24 – along with two assists, both for Hook – alongside a 25-save outing from Tyler Beskorowany.

There was even a first professional point for 17-year-old Mack Stewart, the son of assistant coach Rob, as he pocketed an assist on Conway’s hat-trick goal with 2:36 left in the third, while Carter Hamill made his second appearance of the season.

With the win, the Giants move to 10-5-0 on the season and keep the pressure on league leaders the Sheffield Steelers, who come to Belfast next week for what should be an unmissable pre-Christmas double-header.

As well as they played down bodies, the Giants will hope they get some help back between now and then, but they will certainly take no shortage of confidence into that weekend off the back of this performance.

The powerplay rolled at 3-for-4, the penalty kill was a perfect 0-for-2 and there was even a rare goal for defenceman Kevin Raine, who scored only his second ever home regular season in the first period.

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It took the Giants just 6:06 to get on the board on the powerplay – Lane off for hooking – as Soy ended his lengthy drought, the centre finding space in the slot and ripping it past Carr – 19 saves – at 6:06 for 1-0.

The Giants then had to ride a couple of penalty kills as Jeff Baum (slashing) and David Goodwin (boarding) both sat, and they survived Jeremy Welsh ringing the post before they doubled their advantage.

It came from the most unlikely of sources, defenceman Raine pouncing on the loose puck on the edge of the right circle and firing low under the pad of Carr to make it 2-0 at 18:31.

If anybody expected the Giants to ease off in the second, it took just 51 seconds for them to prove those people wrong.

In the last game against the Panthers, Soy set up two goals with backhanded no-look passes, and he repeated the trick this time when he put it back in front for Hook and the winger supplied the tap-in finish for 3-0.

It looked like it would need something special for Nottingham to even get one, and it was a lucky break that provided them with it. Going behind the net, Beskorowany lost control of the puck and when it spilled back in front, Welsh was there to tap it in at 5:12 for 3-1.

That seemed to energise Nottingham, while finally the weight of four short-benched periods took their toll on the Giants and the legs started to go, allowing the visitors to up the tempo, although Beskorowany redeemed himself with three massive stops to keep the gap at two.

Carr was then forced out of the game when J.C. Brassard cross-checked Jordan Boucher into the Panthers netminder, with back-up Kerlin entering in relief, and when Robbie Baillargeon joined his team-mate in the box for the same offence, Belfast took full advantage.

Kerlin's first action would be to fish the puck out of his own net, the perfect saucer pass from Griffin Reinhart setting up Conway in the right circle and he rifled the one-timer in at 6:20 for the 5-on-3 marker to make it 4-1.

Conway nearly had a second shortly after when he rang the crossbar with another effort, but instead the visitors would make it a two-goal game as they went up the other end and when the puck squirted out at the crease, Lane was there to squeeze it in with 58 seconds to the second intermission.

But having looked tired in the second, the Giants were irrepressible in the third and closed it out with a dominant final frame.

They got it under way in much the same fashion as the second, Soy reversing a pass for Hook to finish shortside on Kerlin just 53 seconds in to make it 5-2 before it became the Conway show to finish things off.

The GB centre showed some masterful stick handling to put Kerlin on the ice to slide it in for his second at 7:47 and then he rounded off the treble with just a couple of minutes left on the clock when he poked it in at the back-door on the powerplay.

Job done. Four points. Big character weekend.

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