Belfast Giants forward Ciaran Long is a man in red-hot form and he leads the EIHL Series in both goals and points after the opening weekend of action.
Playing for his former side Manchester Storm, the English winger struck three times — once against the Coventry Blaze and twice in a win over the Sheffield Steelers — and added an assist against the Steelers to make it a four-point weekend and help the Storm to two wins from two to start the tournament.
Long was a prolific scorer for the Storm the season prior to joining the Giants and he showed that scoring touch early for his old team as he significantly boosted his chances of making Pete Russell’s Great Britain squad for the World Championships in Riga next month.
“The boys are finding me in good spots and luckily I’m in the right place at the right time — been a couple tap-ins for me,” said the modest 30-year-old, who has found chemistry with Scott Simmonds and Ben Davies.
“It’s nice to get the confidence going early, hopefully I can keep it rolling for the whole Series.”
The Storm — who also have Giants wing Ben Lake on their roster — look like the in-form team at this early stage, battling past the Blaze 3-2 in overtime on Saturday before holding off the Steelers 5-4 yesterday.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys who have played together before in various different teams and a lot of us have played for (head coach Ryan Finnerty) before, so we know what to expect. It’s given us a good helping hand to start,” explained Long.
In yesterday’s other game, Giants netminder Shane Owen made 25 saves for the Coventry Blaze as they defeated Mark Garside and Lewis Hook’s winless Nottingham Panthers 3-1.