The Manchester Storm rolled into Belfast on Friday night for game one of a Christmas Double Header- and it was almost a cert that it was going to get physical.
A huge roar went up for the returning Patrick Dwyer, who helped the Belfast Giants along to a dominant first period. Dominant everywhere, that is, except the scoreboard. Against the run of play, Luke Moffatt broke away to feed Dany Byers who promptly put the Storm 1-0 up at 8.52.
It would stay that way until the first minute of the second period, when Darcy Murphy struck the Giants level, with an assist from David Rutherford.
Post game interviews brought to you, as always, by our friends at Total Performance Fitness
By the middle of the second period- it got lively. As both sides had exchanged increasingly aggressive hits during play, a Tyler Beskorowany puck freeze was to boil over in the crease. As the teams paired off and the arena erupte, both Curtis Leonard and Patrick Dwyer dropped the gloves.
The resulting penalty minutes read like a night at the bingo.
An ill tempered second period continued into the third, with skirmishes at the bench and a little extra venom in hits from both sides. The Manchester Storm were to go 1-2 ahead courtesy of assistant captain Shane Bakker at 43.16- the helpers coming from Chance Braid and Logan MacMillan.
You could sense the frustration in the arena as the Belfast Giants continued to put in a solid, steady performance in all facets… but could not convert on a number of absolutely stunning chances. It was Kendall McFaull who finally found the back of the net from close range at 49.17, assisted by Jonathan Ferland. (2-2)
Not only were chances not finding their way home, but the SSE Arena was audibly unhappy with a number of missed calls from the officials. Sometime many attributed to the extra physical nature of the game.
Somehow… with the Giants outshooting the storm massively… the game moved to Overtime.
Even with a 4 on 3 Powerplay, there was no breaking the deadlock and a bewildered SSE Arena found themselves facing penalty shots for the extra point. At this point, the shot clock was 43-22 in favour of the men in Teal.
The Manchester Storm found the back of the net twice, and took the extra point, as all 4 Giants failed to convert.
The Belfast Giants don’t leave a frustrating encounter empty handed- but there won’t be anyone leaving the arena tonight with a feeling that justice was done.
PODCAST: Driving Home For Christmas – This Week’s A View From The Bridge has Jonathan Ferland discussing the Giants and his Calder Cup title with Hamilton. Storm Head Coach Ryan Finnerty previews his teams weekend in Belfast and we talk to Adam Keefe and Dustin Johner at training.
A View From The Bridge Podcast, Official Podcast of the Belfast Giants, part of Kingdom Of The Giants.