Belfast Telegraph

Giants still fighting for title, says Thornton

Coventry Blaze 6 Belfast Giants 4

By Stuart McKinley

Steve Thornton is refusing to throw in the towel in the Elite League title race — even after the Belfast Giants fell five points behind leaders Coventry Blaze last night.

The Giants slipped to a 6-4 defeat in Coventry last night and with seven games to go they now need Blaze to lose twice in order to go into the head-to-head meeting between the teams on the final night of the campaign with the title at stake.

And that will only be possible if the Belfast men win every one of their games in the meantime.

Three of Coventry’s six goals last night came on powerplays — with the final one 41 seconds from the end being scored into an empty net when Giants goaltender Stephen Murphy was pulled in favour of the extra skater.

And Thornton hit out at referee Matt Thompson’s handling of the game.

“We were the better team five-on-five. We played well, created more and finished our hits,” said Thornton.

“We had 10 penalties called against us, a full period with one man less on the ice. Six in the first period and two five-on-threes.

“We didn’t deserve to be in the penalty box 10 times in that game. We basically got screwed.”

The Giants were hit with their first penalty after only 19 seconds when Jeff Szwez was sent to the box and Coventry’s opener came in the fifth minute when Greg

Chambers scored while Sean McMorrow and Evan Cheverie were both off the ice.

It was on a Giants powerplay that Coventry doubled their lead in the 14th minute though, when Dan Carlson struck.

The Giants rallied though; a couple of minutes later Craig Peacock was on target and six minutes into the second period Thornton himself struck to level the game and set up a thrilling second half to the contest.

Two quick-fire goals — both on powerplays — put Coventry firmly in the driving seat though with Greg Owen and Jonathan Weaver on target just before the end of the second period.

Colin Shields pulled one back on a powerplay in the third period, but Carlson restored the two goal cushion.

Peacock was on target again for the Giants as they pushed for overtime, but when Luke Fulghum scored the empty netter that was the end of the Giants hopes of taking anything from the game.

“I’ll never say it’s over, but we’re in a position now that I didn’t want to be in,” said Thornton.

“A win would have put things in our own hands and when it’s not like that it’s not ideal.

“We are capable of going on a seven game winning run though.”

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