Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Giants hold on for win in high-scoring thriller at Storm

Manchester Storm 4-6 Belfast Giants

By Adam McKendry

A ten-goal thriller at the Altrincham Ice Arena saw the Belfast Giants extend their Elite League lead to four points with a 6-4 win over the Manchester Storm.

Darcy Murphy had a brilliant individual performance, scoring four of Belfast's six goals and adding an assist as Adam Keefe's side bounced back from Saturday's loss in Glasgow to get back in the win column.

It also brings to an end a massive away stretch of games, with the Giants' next seven games all at the SSE Arena, leaving the Giants in a very strong position in the Elite League going forward.

It was a horror start for the Giants as they found themselves two down within the first five minutes, Evan Richardson finishing a rebound at 2:53 before Luke Moffatt's nice finish from the slot at 4:40.

Jonathan Ferland drew a good save from Matt Ginn at the other end, while Darcy Murphy did well to break up a two-on-one at the other end between Richardson and Ciaran Long.

It was Murphy who set up the Giants' first goal too, the winger firing on Ginn from the right circle and David Rutherford perfectly placed to finish the rebound at 13:48.

The post was struck by Blair Riley from a tight angle before Dustin Johner tied it up at 17:32 with a one-timer from the top of the left circle.

And when the Storm ran into penalty trouble, taking a too many men call while Linden Springer was already in the box for interference, Belfast capitalised to lead at the intermission when Josh Roach set up Murphy at the backdoor for the 5-on-3 strike at 19:44.

But Manchester responded early in the second, Richardson grabbing his second at 21:44 when he deflected in Mike Hammond's pass to the crease under pressure.

The thrilling action continued as the Giants nearly forced the puck in under Ginn in a scramble at the net, while Roach needed to slide in to deny Shane Bakker a clean shot at the other end.

It would be Belfast who would take control of the tie, however, when Murphy secured his hat-trick in quick fashion, tucking home a rebound off Kendall McFaull's shot at 30:22 before Roach's sublime fake shot afforded him the space to put it on a plate for Murphy to complete his treble at 34:22.

The Storm had two great chances to get a goal back before the second intermission, only for Beskorowany to deny Hammond out in front before Rob Linsmayer fanned on a great chance at the left circle.

Once again, however, a dreadful start to the third period saw the Storm strike back at 41:43 as the impressive Ciaran Long got a breakaway while the Giants had the powerplay, the young Brit finishing nicely past Beskorowany for the shorthanded marker.

Forward Hunter Bishop didn't help matters either when he was ejected from the game for an elbow on Manchester defenceman Dallas Erhardt, also taking a five-minute major penalty

However, a brilliant penalty kill from Belfast saw them emerge unscathed with their one-goal lead without the hosts seriously testing Beskorowany, while Kyle Baun nearly got a shorthanded goal but for a great stop by Ginn.

Having killed off that penalty, the Giants had two great chances to kill the game when Lewis Hook shot high on a solo breakaway, before Riley was denied out in front by Ginn after a good pass from Rutherford.

It led to a nervy finish, with the Storm pulling Ginn for the extra attacker while on the powerplay, but a loose pass in their own zone allowed Murphy to secure the points, and his fourth goal, with an empty netter at 59:32.

The two sides meet again next weekend in a doubleheader at the SSE Arena as Belfast begin a seven-game home stand following their mammoth road trip.

Man of the Match: #15 Darcy Murphy

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