Belfast Giants edge closer to European final after seeing off Ritten Sport
Belfast Giants 6-2 Ritten Sport
The Belfast Giants are in a strong position to reach the Super Final of the Continental Cup after they made it two wins from two with a 6-2 win over Ritten Sport at the SSE Arena.
After falling behind in the first period, the Giants were back to their superfluous best in the second and third periods as they completed their ninth straight win to leave them one point off qualification for January's final.
As long as they avoid defeat in regulation time against GKS Katowice tomorrow, Belfast will book their place in the final four, and in the form they're in it would be hard to bet against them.
The Giants nearly took the lead after 21 seconds when Lewis Hook almost poked home a rebound on the doorstep as the hosts started strongly, before Ritten came back into it as Daniel Tudin and Simon Kostner went close.
But it would be Belfast who took the lead at 8:20 when Patrick Dwyer took advantage of some loose play from the visitors, racing onto a puck that rebounded off the backboards and snapping a one-timer in off the stick of Ritten netminder Thomas Tragust.
That elation quickly turned into stunned silence, however, when two quick goals from the Italians suddenly had them ahead, Kostner finishing at the doorstep at 10:03 on the powerplay and then Alex Frei ripping a one-timer past Tyler Beskorowany at 10:37.
The two sides would go in level at the first intermission though as the Giants equalised in scrappy fashion, Tragust losing a shot from Darcy Murphy and Blair Riley sweeping in the loose puck at 18:49.
It took Belfast 92 seconds of the second period to retake the lead, Tragust again unable to freeze the puck and Riley was on hand at the backdoor to tap in the rebound at 21:32.
Back came Ritten though, and after Beskorowany just got enough on a backhander from Henrik Eriksson to divert it onto the post, he then pulled off a brilliant glove stop from Stefan Quinz in the left circle on a breakaway.
He was rewarded for that stop when the Giants doubled their lead at 33:09 with a beautiful strike from Francis Beauvillier, the winger turning in the right circle and getting the quick release away that left Tragust with no chance over his shoulder.
The middle stanza would end on a violent note, however, as Hunter Bishop took exception to a hit from defenseman Imants Lescovs and immediately dropped the gloves with him, ending both their nights early.
Ritten did come out the more energetic in the third, but the result was put to bed at 45:01 when the top line clicked again, David Rutherford battling for possession behind the net before putting it back in front for Darcy Murphy to finish.
After Beskorowany made a couple of important stick checks to kill off a particularly threatening Ritten powerplay, the hosts began to flex their muscles and they grabbed a sixth at 51:30 when Murphy sent a pass to the crease and Jonathan Boxill jammed it in five-hole.
From there it was all Belfast, who went in search of even more goals despite the already inflated scoreline, and even though they didn't find another, it was still a good night at the office for Adam Keefe's men, who go into tomorrow's final game high on confidence.
Man of the Match: Darcy Murphy
Belfast Telegraph Digital