Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Giants tame Nottingham Panthers

By Stuart McKinley

Steve Thornton struggled to shed the feeling of frustration despite seeing his Belfast Giants team hit the Nottingham Panthers for six - because he believes his team should have secured two wins from the weekend rather than just one.

The win in Nottingham last night came on the back of three successive defeats, but what annoyed Thornton most was that they let victory slip away against the Hull Stingrays on Saturday.

The Giants had led early on in Hull before losing 3-2 and when Nottingham levelled after falling 3-1 behind yesterday there was a feeling that they could blow even more points.

Two powerplay goals and a late empty-net strike won the points though and with Elite League leaders Braehead Clan losing to Cardiff, the gap between the Giants and the top of the table is down to seven points, with two games in hand.

"There is relief and frustration after that," said Thornton.

"We played 120 over the weekend and for about 110 of those we were really good. In that 10 or 15 minutes when we took the foot off the gas in Hull it cost us dearly.

"The frustration is just magnified when we then go out and win in Nottingham."

Determined to make up for the defeat in Hull, the Giants came out flying and made a dream start, scoring twice in the opening four minutes of the game.

Indeed there were only 72 seconds on the clock when they Giants opened the scoring. David Phillips moved the puck to Mike Kompon and he set up Darryl Lloyd to finish.

It was the same man who scored the second at 3:35. This time it was Robby Sandrock who came forward out of defence, found Adam Keefe and Lloyd tucked his pass into the net through the pads of Nottingham goaltender Mattias Modig.

Nottingham got themselves back into the game just before the midway point of the first period when the Giants ran into penalty trouble.

First Colin Shields was sent to the penalty box, quickly followed by Keefe and with two extra skaters on the ice Bruce Graham and former Giant Chris Higgins combined to set up Cody Wild to score.

The two-goal lead was restored just 36 seconds into the second period when Kevin Westgarth scored off assists from Mark McCutcheon and Craig Peacock.

Nottingham hit back again though - and again through having a numerical advantage.

Sandrock was sent to the box for charging and he was only off the ice 25 seconds when Graham cut the arrears.

Both Sandrock and Kompon were sitting out when Higgins made it all to play for as he struck the equaliser at 27: 13.

The Giants weren't rattled though and they gave Nottingham a taste of their own medicine when Peacock restored the lead on the powerplay at 32:50.

When Jeff Mason made it 5-3 - again on a powerplay - at 44:48 it gave the Panthers a mountain to climb.

They pulled Modig in an attempt to get back into the game, but with 10 seconds to go Ray Sawada made sure of victory for the Giants.

Belfast Telegraph


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