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Big second period leads Belfast Giants to win at Manchester Storm, extend streak to 12 in a row

Manchester Storm 1 Belfast Giants 6

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The Belfast Giants celebrate Ben Lake's goal against the Manchester Storm

The Belfast Giants celebrate Ben Lake's goal against the Manchester Storm

The Belfast Giants celebrate Ben Lake's goal against the Manchester Storm

Ben Lake, Scott Conway and J.J. Piccinich struck around three penalty kills in a big second period for the Belfast Giants as they extended their winning run to 12 games with a 6-1 win over the Manchester Storm at Planet Ice Altrincham.

In a middle frame that could have swung either way having started tied at 1-1, Lake opened the scoring just 11 seconds after the restart, with Conway adding at 11:19 and Piccinich sniping home at 16:50.

Between those goals the Giants’ special teams were on top form, playing out calls on Conway, Ciaran Long and Lewis Hook, to the extent that the best chances fell to the visitors while they were shorthanded.

Lake had opened the scoring after just 2:44 – which takes his season tally to 10 – a goal which was quickly cancelled out by Zach Sullivan’s point shot just 27 seconds later, but after that it was all Giants in another dominant outing.

Jordan Boucher scored a double in the third period to round off another big night for Adam Keefe’s side, while Tyler Beskorowany was relatively untroubled in turning away just 14 shots as the Giants conceded one goal or less for the 10th time in their last 14 games.

Now 18-5-0 on the season, the Giants stay three points behind Premier Sports Elite League leaders the Sheffield Steelers – who beat the Guildford Flames at the same time – but are now just one point behind the second-placed Cardiff Devils with four games in hand.

Even better is the exposure they continue giving to 17-year-olds Mack Stewart and Kell Beattie, both introduced in the third period when the game was all but won, with the former picking up his second assist of his pro career on Boucher’s second goal as they continue to look comfortable at this level.

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Lake had put the Giants up at 2:44 when he tapped in Mark Cooper’s feed, but Sullivan tied it up shortly after when his shot from the blue-line got all the way through and past Beskorowany, but after that there was little to talk about in the first.

That certainly wasn’t the case in the second, and the first talking point came just 11 seconds in when Storm netminder Jason Bacashihua – 34 saves – denied Cooper’s initial effort, but Lake was there to tap in the rebound for 2-1.

After failing to convert on a Tayler Thompson cross-checking penalty, the Giants’ penalty kill looked strong when they killed off penalties on Conway (face-off violation) and Long (interference).

And just as Long burst out of the box, Conway made it 3-1 with his 21st goal of the campaign when he jumped on the puck in neutral ice and fired past Bacashihua at 11:19.

Playing with confidence, when Hook went to the box for holding the Giants played aggressively on the kill and all three of Cooper, Conway and Piccinich had chances to add to their total shorthanded but saw them denied by Bacashihua.

But Piccinich wouldn’t be denied for long and at 16:50 he got on the board with a fantastic short-side shot from the right circle, firing it perfectly into the top corner to make it 4-1 at the second intermission with his 21st of the season.

By that stage the game was all but won, and Boucher made it certain with a superb solo goal, taking advantage of a slashing call on former Giants winger Curtis Hamilton to go coast-to-coast and finish for 5-1 at 8:54.

At this stage Stewart and Beattie were getting regular shifts and were deployed on both the powerplay and penalty kill as Tyson Fawcett (slashing) and Cameron Critchlow (tripping) sat for Manchester, while Kevin Raine (interference) headed off for Belfast.

And Stewart would get on the scoresheet when his pass hit Tyler Soy and the centre found Boucher all alone in front of goal and he chipped it over Bacashihua for his 10th goal of the season to round off the night at 18:34.


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