Belfast Telegraph

Giants off to a flyer and up for Cup

By Stuart McKinley

Steve Thornton has vowed to put as much energy into retaining the Challenge Cup as he will his quest to win the Elite League title after his Belfast Giants got their defence of the trophy off to a perfect start.

Whether he places the same importance on next weekend’s 20-20 Hockey-Fest one-day competition in Sheffield remains to be seen though, with the Elite League’s new initiative already the butt of dressing room jokes.

The main business of the weekend in Edinburgh came yesterday and Thornton’s men had no problems getting themselves going for the 1.30pm face-off as they hit the Capitals for six — with the home side registering two in reply.

The previous night the Giants has been on the end of a 7-0 defeat at the hands of American Hockey League side the Hamilton Bulldogs in an exhibition game and Thornton has banked elements of that game in his memory in the hope that they can boost his own team.

“We won the game we were there to win,” said Thornton.

“On Saturday we came up against a team that was deeper than us and better than us and we expected it to be difficult.

“Stephen Murphy was fantastic in that game and we did well to keep it down to 7-0 against a very strong team.

“It was worthwhile because we didn’t pick up injuries and games like that always give you the chance to steal some things from other team to use ourselves.”

Yesterday the Giants raced into a 3-1 lead in the first period and never looked back as they got their first Challenge Cup points on the board — and with the Newcastle Vipers and Sheffield Steelers in the same group it could well be an important two points when it comes to qualification for the semi-finals.

English youngster Craig Peacock maintained his recent impressive form in front of goal by opening the scoring and after the Capitals equalised Shane Johnson and Evan Cheverie netted to put the Giants into a commanding position.

Pierre-Luc Faubert — the man of the season so far — then notched a brace as the Giants took the game away from their rivals.

Before the second period ended Pat Bateman added a sixth for the slick Giants with the game very much in the bag.

Edinburgh did hit back with a second goal, but by that stage it was much too little and far too late to get anything from the match.

Now the Giants face Newcastle in the Challenge Cup at the Odyssey on Friday before a league game in Nottingham the following night and then the 20-20 competition on Sunday, where they will face the Cardiff Devils in the first round, with a 12 noon face-off, and hope to be lifting a trophy at around 7.30pm.

“We were joking in the locker room during the breaks against Edinburgh that we only have five games next weekend,” revealed Thornton.

“It’s going to be busy,” he added.

Meanwhile George Awada is scheduled to undergo a scan on his injured shoulder today. to help determine when he will be fit to return to the ice.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph