Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Giants defend the Challenge Cup: what they said

Belfast Giants celebrate their Challenge Cup trophy win
Belfast Giants celebrate their Challenge Cup trophy win

By Adam McKendry in Cardiff

The Belfast Giants successfully defended their Challenge Cup title after they defeated the Guildford Flames 2-1 in overtime in Sunday's final.

Jordan Smotherman scored 9:30 into overtime to ensure this Giants team would be the first to successfully defend a title in the club's history.

Patrick Dwyer's opening goal had been cancelled out by Jamie Crooks late in the second period, while Tyler Beskorowany made 28 saves on 29 shots to take the game to extras where Belfast would triumph.

Here's what the players had to say after the game:

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Belfast Giants celebrate their Challenge Cup win

Blair Riley, forward and captain

"I don't know if I can sum it up but I'll try. Incredible fight from our entire team, phenomenal game by Besko and just a great hockey game. We were up against it against a team with a lot of speed, they worked hard and pushed us to the limit. Credit to them and credit to our group, we found a way to break through in overtime. Very proud moment for me and my team-mates."

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Belfast Giants forward Jordan Smotherman with the Challenge Cup trophy

Jordan Smotherman, forward and game-winning goalscorer

"It's hard to (sum that up)! Unbelievable feeling, you can obviously see how much it means to the guys in the room and the guys who made the trip, so to be on the winning end of that is awesome.

"This is the reason we play hockey. We said before going out for overtime, the chance to be the hero was awesome, but we had some efforts that made the difference. Huge block by Boxill in the third period probably saves us the game and Besko stood on his head the whole night."

On his goal: "Not much I had to do! Good forecheck by Johner, makes a nice pass and I got the opportunity to put it in!"

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Belfast Giants head coach Adam Keefe with the Challenge Cup trophy

Tyler Beskorowany, netminder and Man of the Match

"It was an unbelievable game from both sides, it really could have gone either way. It was a game of systems and we played well right to the end. We deserved this win, the guys worked hard all year for it and having lost in the Continental Cup, this is a huge confidence booster for us going forward."

On his saves in overtime: "Can't get too far ahead of myself, it was a massive couple of saves. But hats off to the guys in front of me, they blocked a lot of shots for me and made my job a lot easier. What a performance from everyone in this game."

"We fell a little short in the Continental Cup, so to come in today and get this trophy, what a redemption it was for everyone. I couldn't ask for a better group of guys."

Patrick Dwyer, forward and goalscorer

"It was a tough game, there weren't many chances either way and it was a bit of a dogfight. Thankfully we came out of it on the right side this time - we had that heartache in the Continental Cup so to come out of it on the right side this time is good for this team and will push us forward now.

"Ideally I would have been back earlier, but it was good to get the game on Friday, get the timing down so I could help contribute tonight on the powerplay.

"This is the first pro trophy I've won so obviously it's up there. I've played in Eastern conference finals, which was heartbreak, but this is amazing. Any time you win a Championship it's amazing."

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Belfast Giants forward Jordan Smotherman scores the game-winning goal in the Challenge Cup final

Jonathan Boxill, forward

On blocking that Calle Ackered shot: "It didn't feel very good at the time! Guys like myself aren't the ones to get the points, so for the group to notice me digging in in any way then that means a lot to me."

"There are a lot of guys who played unbelievable tonight, and to come out the way we did is unbelievable, we have a very special group of people. I care a lot about this club, and to leave last year and see them win a Championship was tough, so this is really special to me."

Jim Vandermeer, defenceman

"It was a hell of a game. They played really good and we kept it really tight. You play Game Sevens back in America but it doesn't get any better than winning it in overtime. It's an awesome feeling.

"Last year I was injured and couldn't be playing. To be on the ice this year and contributing, playing instead of coaching, it's a little sweeter. It was still great last year, it was great this year."

Dustin Johner, forward

On his forecheck for Smotherman's game-winner: "I just dumped it deep and said to myself get on the horse, get down there and disrupt him. I kind of read he was trying to go D to D and it picked it out of the air, saw Smoothie coming in and he's the kind of guy you want to have the puck."

"Oh man, it's not easy to sum that up. With this group of guys and how it ended in overtime, we battled hard and we stuck together. It's hard to explain and hopefully this is the first of a few more we're going to win this season.

"Personally it means more to me being out here and contributing and helping the team win on the ice, but last year was good too because we beat Cardiff. You have to give credit to Guildford, they pushed us hard tonight and we had to give everything we had to get the win. It feels good right now."

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