Belfast Giants return to the top as Blair Riley treble downs Lightning
Belfast Giants 5-1 Milton Keynes Lightning
The Belfast Giants returned to the top of the Elite League table in dominant fashion as they swept aside the Milton Keynes Lightning 5-1 at the SSE Arena.
Captain Blair Riley led from the front with a brilliant hat-trick, while Lewis Hook and Darcy Murphy both added strikes that see the Giants take back top spot from the Cardiff Devils.
Belfast burst out to the perfect start, taking the lead after just 3:56 when former Lightning ace Hook gave the hosts the advantage, beating Adam Goss in the Lightning net after being set up by Patrick Dwyer and Kyle Baun.
The lead was doubled late in the period when Riley grabbed his first, combining well with the classy Dwyer to finish past the unfortunate Goss at 15:46.
By this stage the game was already gone, and when Riley added a third - his second - with a stunning solo finish at 28:30, that was the result secured.
And Murphy added some more gloss to the scoreline just at 32:56 when he put himself on the scoresheet, supplying the finishing touch to a move started by Kevin Raine and assisted by the exceptional Riley.
The visitors weren't to go home completely empty handed, however, as they hit back in the third period when Cole Shudra finally found a way past Tyler Beskorowany at 49:47 after some good work from Georgs Golovkovs and Harry Ferguson.
But it was Riley's night, and he capped it all off by adding his hat-trick goal at 54:37, the captain beating Goss shorthanded to complete a strong night at the office for the home side.
Man of the Match: #25 Blair Riley
Belfast Telegraph Digital