Belfast Giants flying high despite flight delay
Belfast Giants 2-1 Nottingham Panthers
The Belfast Giants overcame a flight delay to claim victory over the Nottingham Panthers and return to the top of the Elite League table.
After losing 4-2 in Sheffield on Saturday night, the Giants players had to endure travel problems on their way back to Belfast yesterday before their 4pm face-off against the Panthers.
And that made the 2-1 win all the sweeter, with goaltender Carsen Chubak producing an outstanding performance on his Odyssey debut as his team mates ground out the victory.
With previous leaders Braehead Clan losing both of their games at the weekend the Giants are now out in front, although the teams are level on points. The Sheffield Steelers are a point behind ahead of two meetings with Braehead next weekend, meaning one or both will leapfrog the Giants while they are in France on Continental Cup duty.
Robby Sandrock opened the scoring last night with a short-handed goal after just five minutes and after Bryan Schmidt levelled a couple of minutes before the end of the first period Evan Cheverie grabbed the winner with 14 minutes to go.
Chubak in particular faced a tough travel schedule after only arriving in Belfast last on Wednesday night after a transatlantic flight.
"He's had a horrendous couple of days of travel," revealed Thornton.
"His flight that he came over on was a bit of a disaster and then the travel that we had at the weekend was a bit of a disaster too, wth flights being delayed, bus issues and then Nottingham were waiting for us to come back too.
"For him to come in here and be thrown into the fire against Sheffield and Nottingham with a lot of travelling and give two performances like that was great."
The Giants took the lead despite Kevin Westgarth sitting in the penalty box. Cheverie took the puck into the Nottingham zone, and laid it across the ice to Sandrock, who produced a trademark finish.
Nottingham levelled after David Clarke tried his luck and when Chubak saved his initial effort Schmidt took advantage and swept home the rebound.
Cheverie won the game five minutes into the third period when he gave the puck to Ray Sawada and made his way into the centre of the ice, before receiving the return and finishing superbly.
Mike Kompon, Mark McCutcheon and Mark Garside all missed the game and that trio of players now face a race against time to be ready in time for the Continental Cup, with the Giants facing Neman Grodno of Belarus in their first game on Friday.