Saviano stars as Belfast Giants go goal crazy in Storm victory
Belfast Giants 9 Manchester Storm 3
Steve Saviano hit an amazing four-goal haul as the Belfast Giants treated fans to a goal fest in their final home game before Christmas.
After failing to score in either of their matches last weekend, Adam Keefe's men showed their mettle in a thrilling 9-3 victory over Manchester Storm, with Darcy Murphy (two), Colin Shields, Sebastien Sylvestre and John Kurtz also on the scoresheet in the Giants' biggest win of the season.
The tone for their victory was set as early as 45 seconds when Saviano scored the first, and with just over three minutes gone the Giants were 3-0 up and coasting.
Manchester did get one back soon after the third goal but the game was already up for them and if anything the scoreline could have been higher, with the Giants ninth goal coming with over 17 minutes still to go.
Now the Giants face 10 consecutive away games, but they will do so sitting just three points behind the Nottingham Panthers at the top of the Elite League table.
The opening goal owed a lot to good fortune. Storm goaltender Mike Clemente saved from Saviano, but Paul Swindelhurst's clearance hit him on the back and rebounded into the net. Saviano celebrated and was credited with the goal as the last Giant to play the puck.
Lifted by the early goal the Giants pushed on and went 2-0 up at 2:55 when Jim Vandermeer gold hold of the puck after a defensive error and set up Murphy to finish.
The Giants kept their foot on the gas and 12 seconds later it was 3-0. Spiro Goulakos sent Saviano racing down the left and sent the puck into the centre when Shields controlled and finished.
Manchester immediately called a time out and whatever coach Ryan Finnerty said to his team obviously worked as 24 seconds later Scott Pitt set up Gerard Hanson to pull one back.
There was no let up from the Giants, however, as the three-goal advantage was restored at 5:18 as Sylvestre and Shields opened up the Storm defence with tape-to-tape passes and Saviano was left with a simple task in scoring his second of the night.
Storm got stronger after that and again narrowed the gap to two goals when Lyndon Springer set up Mike Hammond to score at 13:55.
Any hopes that Manchester had of mounting a comeback were wiped out by a four-goal salvo from the Giants as they owned the second period.
A neat pirouette from Brendan Connolly set up Murphy to make it 5-2 at 23:49 before Saviano completed his hat-trick on a powerplay at 27:59 when he met a pinpoint pass from Vandermeer with a first time shot that nestled in the bottom corner of the net.
Saviano wasn't finished there though. He scored his fourth on a powerplay at 34:34, when again he was the beneficiary of some good luck as his shot was deflected past Clemente.
He then turned provider on the eighth goal, setting up Sylvestre to net 44 seconds from the end of the second period.
The Giants saved the best for last as John Kurtz struck a sweet backhand flick over Clemente and into the roof of the net at 42:45. Andrew Dickson came on in place of Jackson Whistle for the 14 minutes and was beaten two and a half minutes from the end when Luke Moffat hit a consolation for Storm.
• MATT Bisonnette has left the Giants after less than six weeks with the club, citing personal reasons.