Belfast Telegraph

Owen backstops Giants to back-to-back road wins as Fife downed in Kirkcaldy

Fife Flyers 1-4 Belfast Giants

Belfast Giants netminder Shane Owen
Belfast Giants netminder Shane Owen
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Road wins have been very much like London buses for the Belfast Giants this season. You don't see one until the end of October and then all of a sudden two arrive at once.

The nature of their win over the Manchester Storm on Saturday, surrendering a 5-1 lead before eventually leaving with the shoot-out victory, still left them with questions over their ability to close out away games.

But the way they dispatched the Fife Flyers 4-1 in Kirkcaldy leaves them in no doubt that the road skid is now over as the Giants upped their physicality to take the two points.

They got their goals from some unlikely sources too, Kevin Raine with his first goal of the season to open the scoring in the first period, with Liam Reddox snapping a five-game scoring drought to grab the second.

Backed by Shane Owen, who made 34 saves in bouncing back from a couple of rough weekends, the Giants improve to 6-1-2 on the season and move up to fourth in the Elite League standings.

Perhaps most pleasing for the Giants is that they're getting offense again, with Matt Pelech put some additional gloss on the scoreline with his fourth of the season late on.

Although there continue to be questions over the facilities in Fife as not for the first time this season, the Giants were denied what looked to be a couple of fair goals due to the nets being off their moorings.

"You know you have to score one more than you need because there always seems to be one disallowed per game due to these nets," moaned head coach Adam Keefe.

"Something has to be fixed there because that's two goals this season that have been disallowed because of this. It happens non-stop. Maybe we should start telling our boys to push nets off."

The first came early in the opening period when Fife netminder Adam Morrison pushed the goal out of position as Jean Dupuy finished into the vacated cage, much to the chagrin of the centre.

That only served to fire up the visitors, however, as Bobby Farnham led the charge by knocking Sam Jones out of the game with a big hit, followed by Reddox heading off for a boarding call.

The returning Patrick Mullen then joined him in the box when he landed a few blows on Carlo Finucci in a one-sided scrap at the Giants' net.

But the visitors weathered the 5-on-3 and then pulled back to even strength when Mike Cazzola headed to the box for a face-off violation, and from there they would take the lead at 16:04.

Curtis Hamilton reversed a pass nicely to Raine, the defenceman jumping up in the rush and making a nice move to take it past Dylan Quaile and spin and finish low past Adam Morrison from the slot to make it 1-0.

The home crowd were incensed when the lead was doubled 10:23 into the second period as they believed Tim Crowder was pulled back going in one-on-one with Owen, only to get no call.

Going the other way, the Giants overloaded the zone to the tune of a four-on-two break, and Reddox smashed the puck between Morrison's pads to make it 2-0.

Having killed one 5-on-3 in the first period, Belfast weren't able to do it a second time as Pelech was called for roughing and Paul Swindlehurst for unsportsmanlike conduct.

That allowed the Flyers to pull it back to 2-1 at 15:28 when some nice passing saw Danick Gauthier finally beat Owen with a one-timer from the high slot.

But once again it was the moorings that took centre stage at the end of the first period when Jordan Smotherman seemed to have added a third for Belfast when he swept in a rebound.

However, the goal was washed out on the ice despite replays suggesting that the puck had crossed the line inside Morrison's glove before he knocked the net off yet again.

That left Keefe outraged on the bench, slamming down his clipboard and giving off to the officials, but it was to no avail.

But ironically, having had all the decisions go in their favour in the first two periods, Fife finally saw one go against them early in the third for the net not being where it should be.

It was Finucci who went on a wraparound and seemed to finish past Owen at the back post, only for it to be washed out by the officials when the net slid out of position again.

That one was perhaps the most controversial of them all, but rather than provoke a reaction from the hosts, it took them until the latter stages of the game for them to really spark.

As he had been doing all night, Owen came up with an outrageous glove save to deny James Livingston's tip-in to keep it tied going into the dying minutes, and that allowed Belfast to seal the two points with two late strikes.

Ciaran Long had the shot from the blue-line, just aiming to put it on net along the boards, and Pelech going in front of the net got the redirect on it to get it to 3-1.

Bobby Farnham's empty netter with nine seconds remaining - his sixth of the season - was the icing on the cake as the Giants made it back-to-back road wins and four on the bounce.

"In third periods recently we've been imploding, and it's important to get that momentum back with a shift where you don't necessarily score, you just look after the puck," said Keefe.

"Shane Owen, coming back in here, had a great game. We still gave up too much, but I can go through the line-up and list a number of guys who had a great game tonight."

The Giants return to the SSE Arena for the first of a home-away double-header against the Coventry Blaze (7-4-0, 14pts) on Saturday prior to beginning a three-game road swing.

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