Giants back to winning ways with Fife joy

For a time last night it looked like goals where hard to find as the Belfast Giants travelled to the Fife Flyers.

Saturday, 9th October 2021, 9:00 am
Belfast Giants' Scott Conway send the puck towards goal during Friday's game against the Fife Flyers in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. Picture: Jillian McFarlane/Fife Flyers Images

Belfast had won three of their four cup matches thus far, despite a disappointing defeat to the Dundee Stars last Sunday, with a 15-8 goals record through those games.

The last time the two sides met in Belfast opener the Giants came netted five goals in return for go ahead goal for the Flyers in the first period.

Last night saw the return of Giants’ defenceman Cam Knight who had been sidelined because of a knock, while forward Tyler Soy was rested because of injury.

Action from the Belfast Giants game against the Fife Flyers in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. Picture: Jillian McFarlane/Fife Flyers Images

Both Kell Beattie and Mack Stewart, two young players who have been in development with the Junior Giants got important shifts. Both players are just 17.

The opening period saw both Shane Owen in the Flyers goal and Tyler Beskorowany putting in impressive shifts between the posts to deny either side the all important opener.

While the Giants dominated the early action the Flyers were given a morale booster by breaking down Belfast’s chances in front of goal.

Further injury headaches were caused to coach Adam Keefe when defenceman Kevin Raine took a puck in the stomach with less than five minutes left in the opening period.

Action from the Belfast Giants game against the Fife Flyers in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. Picture: Jillian McFarlane/Fife Flyers Images

Later in the period Fife looked eager to get the opening goal, harried the Giants in front of goal only for Beskorowany to stand firm in goal.

The second period was littered with six penalty shared between the two sides.

And just when the game seemed to be lacking any goals the scoring began.

It was the Giants who punished Fife’s ill-discipline. With a delayed penalty call on Bari McKenzie at 31.13, British duo Lewis Hook and Mark Garside stormed the Flyer’s net, to supply Canadian forward Mark Cooper with the puck, which he put firmly in the back of the net.

At 36.01 Erik Naslund for the Flyers and Mark Coopers found themselves in the penalty box for two minutes, for roughing and interference on a goaltender respectively.

But just after the two penalties had ended the Giants were two ahead at 39.24 when Belfast captain David Goodwin slotted the puck across to Jeff Baum for the Texan defenceman to score his first professional goal. And the goal was welcome back home in the US with a Tweet from his father Jeff Snr who was watching the game via the webcast.

The middle period, while lacking any further goals, was another one full of plenty of penalty minutes, with 10 between both sides.

Giants’ Scott Conway was called for hooking at 43.15. Fife’s Erik Naslund was called for slashing at 46.25. And Giants’ Garside was also sent to the penalty box at 48.11 for a hooking call. Before Fife’s McKenzie called for delay of game - shooting or throwing the puck out of play at 50.48. Raine was a further penalty at 53.36 for tripping for Belfast.

In the closing stages and with time running out, Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume pulled Owen to ice his extra skater.

But the Belfast Giants were able to repel a short attacking spell with confidence, closing out the game to take another two points in the group stages of the Premier Sports Challenge Cup.

Speaking after the game Giants head coach said he was pleased to get the win.

“I was very happy with our performance. In the first and second periods we controlled the majority of the play,” he said.

“Then in the third period we asked them to play shutdown. We knew that Fife would come out fighting in the third period and they did have a bit of a push there, especially with the powerplays.” Keefe added: “Overall it has been a positive road game for us, especially with the short bench.”

Fife played a positive game, Keefe remarked: “We knew coming in here that it was going to be tough to get to the net. And with being forced to take shuts from outside, Shane [Owen] is going to make those saves.

“It can be tough to get to the inside against Fife and that we were going to have to buy our time to get our chances and not get frustrated. We had to wait for those chances and opportunities to strike and the guys did that and stuck with the plan.”

The Giants take on Fife Flyers again this Sunday, 10th October at home, facing off at The SSE Arena, Belfast at 4pm.