Belfast Telegraph

That's why we play the game: Belfast Giants hero Jordan hails 'amazing' Challenge Cup success

Belfast Giants 2 Guildford Flames 1

Challenge Cup winners: Belfast Giants celebrate with the trophy
Challenge Cup winners: Belfast Giants celebrate with the trophy
Jordan Smotherman

By Adam McKendry

As far as title victories go, this was simply unforgettable.

Netminder Tyler Beskorowany made three outstanding saves in overtime and Jordan Smotherman came up with the winner 9:30 into extras to ensure the Belfast Giants would defend their Challenge Cup title with a 2-1 win over the Guildford Flames at Cardiff's Viola Arena.

Beskorowany was phenomenal all game, making 28 saves on 29 shots to take the game to overtime, after Patrick Dwyer's powerplay goal 33 seconds into the second period was cancelled out by Jamie Crooks' powerplay marker at 16:38.

But it would be the Giants who would edge things, Smotherman jumping onto a turnover behind the net by Dustin Johner to grab the game winner.

"We deserved this win tonight, the guys worked so hard all season and having lost the Continental Cup this is a huge win for us, a huge confidence booster going forward," said Beskorowany.

"It was a massive couple of saves (in overtime), but hats off to my guys, they made some huge blocks.

"What a performance from everybody in this game."

While Beskorowany did the business at one end of the ice, at the other it was Smotherman who was grabbing the goal that sent Giants fans into raptures.

Chasing a puck into the corner, Johner put enough pressure on Flames defenceman Jordan Abt to force the turnover and flicked it back in front of the net for the onrushing Smotherman, who made no mistake.

He only joined the team last month, but that's now Smotherman's seventh and most important goal.

"I didn't have much to do!" laughed the 32-year-old. "Good forecheck by Johner, he makes the good pass and I put in.

"That's why we play the game. We said before going out for overtime that we had a chance to be heroes.

"It's hard to sum that one up. To be on the winning end of that one is amazing."

The opening period was dominated by the Flames but neither side could break the deadlock, despite the English side getting a powerplay when Mark Garside went off for a hooking call.

Having killed it off, the Giants then capitalised on having a powerplay of their own, Calle Ackered sent to the box for interference at 18:42 of the first.

It took them until the second period to make the most of it. Dwyer got free in the slot to get his shot away and it tipped off a Flames stick and over Guildford netminder Chris Carrozzi.

"That was a dogfight, but thankfully we came out on the right side of it," said Dwyer.

"This is the first pro trophy I've won so it's right up there as one of my best memories. I've been in the Eastern conference finals but any time you win a Championship it's great."

Crooks levelled it up on the powerplay late in the second when Kendall McFaull took a needless cross checking call, leading to a cagey third period.

The Giants passed up two early powerplay opportunities with Erik Lindhagen and Corbin Baldwin off the ice, and with just 8:17 left, Kyle Baun was called for slashing, sending the Giants onto a nervy penalty kill, but Jonathan Boxill came up with a huge block on a thunderous Ackered slapshot to cause overtime.

That sent it to the extra period and, after Beskorowany did his heroics, Smotherman made himself a hero too.

"It's amazing," said head coach Adam Keefe. "I'm just extremely happy and proud of the guys, they deserve this."

Belfast Telegraph

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