Belfast Telegraph

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Giants have six appeal and Super chance of success

Belfast Giants 6 Ritten Sport 2

By Adam McKendry

The Belfast Giants made it two wins from two in their Continental Cup semi-final group and put themselves on the verge of Super Final qualification with a 6-2 win over Italian opponents Ritten Sport.

After going in at the first intermission tied at 2-2, the uncharacteristically sloppy Giants got back to their best to hit two goals in each of the remaining two periods and record their ninth straight victory at the SSE Arena.

Darcy Murphy scored four points as the hosts' top line again hit top form, the triumvirate of Murphy, David Rutherford and Blair Riley accounting for three of their six goals, while netminder Tyler Beskorowany saved 30 of the 32 shots he faced.

In the grand scheme of things, it means the Giants will secure their place in January's Super Final of the Continental Cup if they avoid defeat in regulation time against GKS Katowice tonight (face-off 7pm), or if Medvescak Zagreb fail to beat Ritten in regulation time in the afternoon game (3pm).

However, the Giants did have to face some adversity as they fell behind for the first time in seven games when a two-goal blitz from the Italians had them 2-1 up for most of the first period.

It had all started so well for Belfast, who nearly had the opening goal after 21 seconds when Ritten netminder Thomas Tragust spilled a puck behind him, only Lewis Hook couldn't steer it home on the doorstep in the melee.

But the home side refused to let up in the early stages, and when Curtis Leonard fired a one-timer that ricocheted off the backboards to Patrick Dwyer, the winger banked it in off Tragust's stick at 8:20 for the opener with the netminder all at sea as he tried to read the play.

It was a sloppy error from the goalie, who held his hands up in apology, and his team-mates forgave him by grabbing a completely unexpected lead in the space of 34 seconds.

The first came at 10:03, Kostner this time finding the twine when he finished at the crease, before the SSE Arena was stunned into silence as the puck found its way into the slot where Alex Frei lasered a one-timer over Beskorowany.

The Giants were rocked, and that Ritten didn't extend their lead further was something of a mystery.

Indeed, how the Giants levelled before the first intermission was also hard to fathom, though that was more for the circumstances of the goal than the run of play.

A shot from Murphy was stopped by Tragust, but the netminder couldn't find the puck in his pads and, when it dropped out onto the ice, Riley was lurking to sweep it in at 18:49.

Suitably encouraged by the bizarre goal, it took only 92 seconds of the second period for the Giants to lead, Tragust again susceptible to allowing a soft rebound and Riley again there at the backdoor to tap it in at 21:32.

Ritten's had a chance to make it a contest when Henrik Eriksson's hopeful effort was deflected onto the post by Beskorowany, while Stefan Quinz's shot from the left circle was also gloved dead before the Giants took over.

At 33:09 they grabbed a fourth when Francis Beauvillier expertly spun in the right circle and got the quick release on a shot that left Tragust rooted to the spot, and the hosts even flexed their muscles - literally - when Hunter Bishop took exception to a hit from Imants Lescovs and dropped the gloves just before the second intermission.

The third period was more of a procession than a contest. Ritten saw their final chance on the powerplay chance go by, and from there the Giants set about adding some gloss.

Rutherford battled behind the net to set up Murphy out in front for his goal at 45:01, with Jonathan Boxill jamming the puck home five-hole on Tragust at 51:30 for the sixth.

From there they were able to coast home, not that anyone minded. The biggest test is tonight, and passing it is all that matters.

Belfast Telegraph

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