Not content with opening their season with an electric 3-1 win on Saturday night, the Belfast Giants came out of the traps with venom on an early Sunday faceoff- their second meeting of the weekend with Swedish Mora IK in pre-season exhibition action.
The majority of the action in the first ten minutes was in the Mora zone, with Belfast’s high press proving too much for the sluggish Mora D lines.
Only 2.05 into the game, Matt Pelech rounded the crease, snapping a fast wrist shot against the pads of goaltender Olaf Lindbom. His second bite of the cherry from narrow right hitting twine to the surprise of the early afternoon Giants fanbase. (Assist: Swindlehurst) (1-0)
Mora’s woes were then compounded with back to back Giants power plays, with Pelech striking again from mid slot at 7.12, with help from Liam Morgan and Ciaran Long. (2-0)
Ben Lake headed to the box for interference at 8.54, and almost had a breakaway chance on his way out, with Mora smothering the danger.
A Victor Amner hooking call continued a choppy first period, before Jordan Smotherman took his turn in the box for a questionable slashing call at 15.03, with the Giants fanbase once again expressing their frustration with the ref crew.
The Giants Kill unit did a solid job of pinning Mora in their own zone, continuing a fantastic weekend of defensive special teams.
Both sides ramped up the physicality in the closing moments of the first, but Belfast headed down the tunnel with the lion’s share of the first period.
Mora got themselves off the mark in emphatic fashion at 27.23, when a laser beam of a shot from Captain Adam Masuhr from the right side of the blue line had Shane Owen well beaten low blocker. (Assist: Lennstrom, Eklind) (2-1)
The sides came together to exchange pleasantries after a whistle around the 10 minute mark in the period, as a chippy game resulted in a Mora power play. Curtis Hamilton headed to the box for a double minor (4 min, Crosschecking) under a shower of boos directed at team stripes.
A further coming together between the benches a minute later resulted in a Mora 5 on 3 (Patrick Mullen, crosschecking). Suddenly, the home crowd was lit up.
Kevin Raine, Curtis Leonard and Liam Reddox were tasked with a monster kill, and just as they have done all weekend, they somehow managed to withhold a pressured Mora attack. Back at 5 on 4, with an extra body on the ice (and Raine pulling a double shift) the Giants surged- even creating a shorthanded chance courtesy of Matt Pelech.
As time expired, a huge ovation rose from the stands for an astonishingly committed penalty kill.
Matej Galbavy took a crosschecking penalty of his own at 35.45, but the Giants PP unit struggled to find the same page.
SOG: Bel 24-22 Mora
Mora struck iron four minutes into a comparably more subdued final period, but a puck-aware Shane Owen managed to cover any chance of a rebound.
Philip Nyberg headed straight for the tunnel after taking the brunt of a Belfast slapshot mid zone- with any luck it won’t be anything serious. Pre season injuries are the last thing you want to see on either side of the ice.
The sides exchanged power plays as the game entered its last ten minutes, but it was Belfast who looked more dangerous. First, Patryk Wronka danced his way through the Mora D line into the zone, being denied only by Lindbom’s right post.
Then, with the Giants bearing down in the zone, Jordan Smotherman pounced on a loose puck to fire home the home side’s third at 54.50. (Unassisted) (3-1)
Jean Dupuy headed to the box for roughing with 4.08 left in the game, as Mora called a timeout to draw up their plan- pulling goaltender Olof Lindbom from the drop in favour of the extra skater.
The Giants kill unit, with a little help from the glove of Shane Owen, prevailed again- sending the game into its final two minutes.
A neutral zone turnover sealed the deal for Belfast, with birthday boy Lewis Hook sniping the empty net from just outside the faceoff circle. (4-1)