Belfast Giants 2, Guildford Flames 1
after sudden death overtime
Belfast Giants players and fans celebrated wildly in Cardiff Bay after their Elite League Challenge Cup success.
Canadian netminder Tyler Beskorowany made three outstanding overtime saves, one of them from Cardiff-born former Devils forward Ben Davies, to keep his team in the cup final at Cardiff Devils’ Viola Arena and then Jordan Smotherman fired the winner after 69-30.
“We deserved to win, the guys worked so hard all season and having lost the Continental Cup this is a huge win for us,” said Beskorowany.
“This is a huge confidence booster going forward. There were a massive couple of saves (in overtime), but hats off to my guys, they made some huge blocks.
“What a performance from everybody in this game.”
Head coach Adam Keefe and his team are in a battle with Cardiff Devils for the Elite League title and both teams have seven matches left in the regular season.
Both teams have already qualified for the European Champions League next season.
“Amazing,” said Keefe. “I’m extremely happy and proud of the guys. They deserve this.”
More than 2,000 spectators were at the Viola Arena and Flames produced fast, incisive hockey. Beskorowany was phenomenal, making 28 saves on 29 shots to take the game into overtime.
Patrick Dwyer’s powerplay goal 33 seconds into the second period was cancelled out by Jamie Crooks’ powerplay marker at 16-38. Brett Ferguson and Davies added the assists.
Then, deep into overtime, Smotherman fired the winning goal.
Dustin Johner chase a puck into the corner, put enough pressure on Flames defenceman Jordan Abt to force a turnover and flicked it back in front of the net for the onrushing Smotherman to fire home.
That was his seventh and most important goal since joining Giants last month.
“I didn’t have much to do,” said Smotherman. “It was good forechecking by Johner, he made the good pass and I put in.
“That’s why we play the game. We said before going out for overtime that we had a chance to be heroes.
“It’s hard to sum that one up. To be on the winning end of that one is amazing.”
Dwyer scored Belfast’s first goal and said: ”It was a dogfight and thankfully we came out on the right side of it.
“This is the first pro trophy I’ve won. It’s right up there with my best memories.
“I’ve been in the Eastern conference finals, but any time you win a Championship it’s great.”
Goaltenders Chris Carrozzi and Giants keeper Tyler Beskorowany won the man of the match awards.
Referees: Andrew Dalton and Dean Smith.
Cardiff Devils’ next home fixture in Elite League is next Sunday when Glasgow Clan are visitors to the Viola.
Devils tickets: CLICK HERE TO BOOK ONLINE or CALL 0800 0842 666 to book
Remaining 7 Elite League fixtures
Three home, four away
Saturday 16 v Sheffield Steelers (away, 7pm)
Sunday 17 v Glasgow Clan (home, 6pm)
Wednesday 20 v Glasgow Clan (away, 7.30pm)
Saturday 23 v Manchester Storm (home, 7pm)
Sunday 24 v Dundee Stars (away, 5pm)
Saturday 30 v MK Lightning (home, 7pm)
Sunday 31 v Coventry Blaze (away, 5.15pm)