Belfast Giants cruise it with a dozen
Belfast Giants 12 Edinburgh Capitals 2: Doug Christiansen has told his Belfast Giants players to put maximum pressure on Elite League title rivals Sheffield and Cardiff by hitting the front in the title race tonight.
A 12-2 victory over the Edinburgh Capitals last night — a club record victory — means the Giants will go to the top of the standings if they defeat the Newcastle Vipers at the Odyssey tonight.
In obliterating the minimal threat of the Capitals — this is a team that was able to ice only nine skaters and two goaltenders — the Giants have cut the Steelers lead at the top of the Elite League to just a single point and jumped ahead of the Cardiff Devils by one point, although the Welsh side now have a game in hand.
“To have a chance of winning the league we have to get to 86 points. We have 80 now and we have to keep winning,” said Christiansen.
“If we beat Newcastle it puts us in a good position. There is pressure and anxiety when you’re favourites and there’s a lot of pressure on Sheffield. By going to the top we increase that pressure.”
And although the Steelers have the title destiny in their own hands, it will then be up to them to knock the Giants off the summit.
Cardiff losing in either Hull tonight or Nottingham tomorrow — which is not beyond the realms of possibility — and Newcastle beating Sheffield is what Christiansen and his players are hoping for in order for things to slip back into the Giants hands.
Edinburgh's lack of numbers have meant that they've been unable to put up much of a fight against anyone of late and that was the case again last night.
Once Craig Peacock had scored with three minutes gone followed by Colin Shields in the 14th and Jon Gleed three minutes later the Giants were comfortable.
Jan Safar got one back for Edinburgh before the end of the first period, but then the Giants set about the Capitals in emphatic fashion in the second period.
Michael Jacobsen, Dan Welch and Colin Shields scored before the period reached its halfway point. Welch then netted again, followed by Josh Prudden and then Mark Garside struck two goals in the space of 20 seconds to make it seven goals in the space of just over 10 minutes and leave the Capitals shell shocked.
Former Giant Jeff Hutchins pulled another back for Edinburgh, but with the points secured the game resembled a testimonial and few, if any, players putting themselves on the line for the sake of their team.
Local boy Gareth Roberts put the icing on the cake when he made it the round dozen with just 88 seconds to go.
The Belfast-born forward had twice come close to scoring his first goal for the Giants in the final period. After Brandon Benedict's shot had been partially saved the puck was sliding agonisingly across the goaltenders crease, almost in slow motion waiting to be put into the net and Roberts was happy to oblige.