After failing to find a goal in two successive home games, the Belfast Giants finally clawed their way back into form on Friday night on the road to Omar Pacha’s Dundee Stars, claiming two points in a 4-2 victory before high tailing it back home across the Irish Sea before Saturday’s forecasted storms rolled in.
But the weekend’s work wasn’t over, and waiting for them back at the SSE Arena on Sunday afternoon was Zack Fitzgerald’s dangerous Glasgow Clan.
While the Clan had began their domestic campaign with a run of form that landed them squarely in pole position, they had since slipped back into sixth- just three points shy of Belfast in third.
Andy Dalton and Dean Smith took charge of this one, with Belfast once again missing difference making D man Kevin Raine in an otherwise healthy lineup.
FIRST PERIOD: HOME GOAL. HOME GOAL. HOME GOAL.
Glasgow edged a lead in the first minute, when Scott Jacklin capitalised on the Giants inability to clear the danger on the blue line. (0-1)
In the second minute, the Clan hit the post from another speculative shot deep in the zone, sending cries of frustration around the arena.
Newest Giant David Goodwin was the only teal jersey causing any kind of stress in the Clan zone in the first five minutes.
Patrick Mullen fed Ciaran Long in the slot who fanned on a good chance, before following up with another mishandle. Long’s frustration at his lack of goal scoring this season is evident, but so is his determination to work through it.
Scott Pitt handed the Giants an unsuccessful powerplay opportunity 8 minutes in, heading to the box for tripping, despite a Patrick Mullen laser from the blue line which flew just wide.
David Goodwin, who had been having a great game, finally broke the home goal drought with 5.24 left in the period. Belfast’s forecheck had coughed up zone possession, and when the puck was redirected out into the slot by Jordan Smotherman, Goodwin crashed down on it with an utter, forgive me, thunderbastard. (1-1)
Belfast finished the first period with 50 seconds of power play left, following a Linden Springer tripping call.
SECOND PERIOD: FLOODGATES
Mark Garside took a slashing call on a shaky Giant defensive phase at 21.41, as the D corps struggle to clear the zone in front of Shane Owen.
In the opening ten minutes of the period, Belfast were muted offensively for the most part. One or two players were working hard to create looks, notably Bobby Farnham in addition to goal scorer David Goodwin- but the side spent the opening minutes largely absorbing pressure.
Curtis Leonard took a cross zone pass with 8.31 left in the period, coming off the bench into space. His hard wrist shot from the blue line was swallowed into the glove of Clan net minder Patrick Killeen.
Liam Reddox fed Brian Ward on the edge of the crease moments lader, Ward hammering home at 31.38 for Belfast’s second. (2-1)
Seconds later, Liam Morgan lit the lamp again.
Morgan, who won the draw in the right circle, pounced on a Lewis Hook shot which was rebounded by Kileen, finishing blocker side on the backhand at 32.25. (3-1)
A masterful assist from Liam Reddox behind Killeen’s goal set up Bobby Farnham at the back door, punching home into a wide open cage at 36.20. (4-1)
With three seconds left in the period, Belfast struck again. Liam Morgan fed red hot David Goodwin across the crease, with a frustrated Patrick Killeen beaten back door once more. (5-1)
THIRD PERIOD: BAR DOWNSKI
20 year old Scot Jordan McLaughlin had taken over in goal for the third period, following a night to forget for Patrick Killeen. The tendy had first tasted EIHL action as a backup for the Edinburgh Capitals, moving to Glasgow from the NIHL’s Solway Sharks last season.
Bobby Farnham was betrayed by the puck on a clean breakaway with 8 and a half minutes left- tearing off down the zone with nobody in sight before the biscuit bobbled, flipping over his stick blade.
Jordan Smotherman more than made up for it at 51.44, striking the puck bar down from the top of the right circle. A stunning finish that lit up the Sunday afternoon SSE crowd. (6-1)
Glasgow posed little to no threat in the closing minutes of this one, leaving Belfast to get creative in the zone and pepper backup Jordan McLaughlin with a flurry of shots.
The relief was palpable in the final minute of the game as the Teal army took to their feet to clap their Giants home.
4 point weekend. Merry Christmas.
AVFTB POST GAME INTERVIEWS
Adam Keefe: “They checked off their list on the process, and tonight they got rewarded for it.”
Ryan Lowney: “Once you get that first one… the ball starts rolling.”
David Goodwin: “Guys are positive. Guys are sticking together.”
Words: Joel Neill
Audio: Joel Neill / AVFTB
Images: William Cherry / PressEye