Hull Stingrays 2 Belfast Giants 3
Two early goals set the Belfast Giants on their way to their first Elite League win of the season last night.
Having lost their opening game of the campaign to the Nottingham Panthers on Saturday evening, Steve Thornton needed a response from his players — and he got it, as well as a bit more besides.
They did have to hold off a threatened final period fightback from the Hull Stingrays — inspired by former Giants star Curtis Huppe — but the three earlier goals were enough to see both points head back to Belfast.
The first two goals had arrived within the opening 11 minutes of the game as the Giants clicked into action straight away.
Pierre-Luc Faubert and Brandon Benedict netted their first goals in Belfast Giants colours to give their team a platform to approach the rest of the game.
Colin Shields — who scored the Giants only goal in their 4-1 defeat in Nottingham — and Pat Bateman provided Faubert with the chance and the French-Canadian made no mistake to shoot his team into the lead with just less than three minutes on the clock.
Eight minutes later Tim Cook supplied the pass for Benedict to double the lead and put the Giants firmly in the driving seat.
Just when it looked like they would carry a two-goal cushion into the second period, Hull closed the gap — with just 12 seconds remaining until the buzzer.
Stephen Burns claimed the assist as Jeff Glowa struck the puck past Nathan Craze — who was handed a start in place of Stephen Murphy.
The Giants rained in 13 shots on the Stingrays goal in the second period — and average of almost one every 90 seconds — with Hull managing only six.
It wasn’t until two minutes before the end of the middle session, however, that the Giants scored again.
Evan Cheverie picked up the pass from Shane Johnson and restored the Giants two-goal advantage.
Twenty seconds later Craig Peacock was sent to the penalty box for hooking and while he was off the ice Hull struck on the powerplay.
Shaun Thompson combined with Huppe and Matt Reynolds supplied the finishing touch past Craze.
The Stingrays failed to take advantage of the only other powerplay opportunity in the remainder of the game when Cheverie was penalised with six minutes to go. Graeme Walton was sent from the ice at the same time as his game came to an end when he was hit with a 10 minute misconduct penalty.
With the Giants shutting up shop with all six men on the ice, they came away with the points.
Elsewhere last night the Newcastle Vipers went to the top of the table when they had a 5-4 home win over the Cardiff Devils and Nottingham won 5-3 in Coventry in a Challenge Cup group game.