Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Giants put out Blaze to go top

By Stuart McKinley

Coventry Blaze 2 Belfast Giants 3: Doug Christiansen watched his Belfast Giants team hit the top of the Elite League table last night and then warned their title rivals that they are going to get ‘much, much better.’

The Giants pulled off a stunning double by beating defending champions Coventry Blaze at home and away over the weekend, following up Saturday’s 4-2 win at the Odyssey by scoring a 3-2 success in the Skydome.

And not only did that four point haul take the Giants to the summit, Blaze are now stuck at the bottom of the table after three successive defeats at the start of their challenge to retain the Elite League crown.

Indeed with four teams yet to start their seasons, only three teams have points on the board, with the Sheffield Steelers and Nottingham Panthers tucked in just a single point behind the Giants.

“Over the course of the two games we did an exceptional job,” said Christiansen.

“I do think that we will get much better. We are still making too many mistakes.

“We have to keep our work ethic high — be blue collar in our attitude — and let teams know that they will have to work for the full 60 minutes and over every inch of the ice to stop us.

“We can definitely get much, much better.”

Christiansen was delighted with the start his team made to the game, going 2-0 in front after 16 minutes and also the character displayed to come out on top as Blaze levelled the scores just as the second period was drawing to a close.

Josh Prudden opened the scoring with almost six minutes on the clock, finding a route to goal after Mike Bayrack and Mike Hoffman had set up the chance.

Ten minutes later Dan Welch joined Prudden in netting his first goal for the team to double the lead.

If the first period belonged to the Giants, then the second was definitely owned by Blaze as they

not only wiped out the two-goal advantage, but also grabbed the momentum in the game.

Russ Cowley struck five minutes in before a man that Christiansen knows well threatened to disappoint him again.

Owen Fussey was a target for the Giants in the summer after starring for Christiansen in Edinburgh, only to opt for Coventry instead.

He was through on goal with less than a minute of the second period to go, only to be taken out by John Gleed and referee Dean Smith deemed the offence serious enough to warrant a penalty shot as well as a two minute penalty.

Fussey took the responsibility himself and fired the puck past Stephen Murphy.

With seven minutes of a pulsating game to go, Brandon Benedict latched onto Prudden’s pass to score the winner and make it a perfect weekend.

“Coventry are a very good team and to take four points from them and give nothing away at the same time is no easy task by any stretch of the imagination,” said Christiansen.

“To take four points from them is exceptional, but they will get better and we have to match them when they do.”

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph