Belfast Giants hit Hull for six
Belfast Giants 6 Hull Stingrays 1: The Belfast Giants have turned it up to 11 in their pursuit of the Elite League title.
That's how many points they lead the table by as 2013 draws to a close thanks to a resounding 6-1 win over an understrength Hull Stingrays team at the Odyssey Arena.
Paul Adey's team will now enter 2014 full of confidence that they can claim the championship, especially after stretching their winning run to an impressive eight games.
There were two goals in each period. Kevin Saurette and Evan Cheverie in the first, followed by Chris Higgins and Darryl Lloyd in the second. Craig Peacock then netted the fifth on a powerplay in the third period before he also struck the sixth.
The Giants now face the Nottingham Panthers on Thursday and the Dundee Stars on Saturday – both at the Odyssey – with the hope of stretching the lead even further.
Having travelled with only 12 skaters, Hull wanted to stay out of the penalty box, but they gave the Giants an early powerplay opportunity when Hull's Omar Pacha was hit with a boarding penalty in the first couple of minutes, but they weren't able to take advantage of that, or the second powerplay.
The deadlock was finally broken four minutes before the end of the first period.
Cheverie and Higgins were the creators and Saurette finished off for his 16th goal of the season, taking him level at the top of the Giants goal charts.
It was 2-0 just over three minutes later, with Saurette this time instrumental in the move. He linked the play between Calvin Elfring and Cheverie, with the latter providing the finish.
Hull weren't about to lie down and take a beating and they responded by pulling a goal back at 27:19. Guillaume Doucet struck the powerplay goal.
The rest of the second period belonged to the Giants though, as they tested Hull goaltender Ben Bowns with another 15 shots – the same as the first period.
It became 3-1 at 34:18 when Higgins shot home after good work from Cheverie and Robby Sandrock, taking his tally for the season into double figures.
Four minutes later, Adam Keefe stole the puck on the penalty kill, when David Phillips was sitting out a hooking penalty and fed Lloyd to score.
It became a high five for the Giants four minutes into the third period.
Adey sent his most potent players into action on a powerplay and Cheverie and Saurette moved the puck around the Hull zone before proving Peacock with a pass, which he fired past Bowns.
The same combination took the score to 6-1 at 57:35, as Peacock joined Higgins in reaching double figures for the season to complete the victory.