Manchester Storm 5, Belfast Giants 2
Head coach Ryan Finnerty and his Storm players struck a mighty blow for Cardiff Devils in the chase for Elite League glory.
Manchester Storm hit back from 2-1 down to win 5-2 in Altrincham and leave Giants four points behind leaders Cardiff Devils with four games left in the regular season.
Cardiff are on course to be crowned League champions for a third successive season and Storm’s win is a massive bonus. Belfast, though, are still within reach if Cardiff slip up.
Devils now play Storm at home on Saturday evening, a fixture played at the Viola Arena in Cardiff Bay (7pm).
That's why we love this game! Massive win at the ⛈ Shelter as we defeat title chasing @BelfastGiants 5-2 & continue our #PlayoffPush! We're back on home ice next Saturday for a showdown with @covblazehockey! #WeAreStorm | #PlayoffPush ⛈ pic.twitter.com/Ue6unSVeSk
— Manchester Storm (@Mcr_Storm) March 22, 2019
Former Devils captain Finnerty had his Stormtroopers fired up for their clash with Giants and there is no question they will be up for a major battle in South Wales.
Manchester put themselves back into the play-offs picture with their second home win over Belfast this season – a victory that sets the Giants back four points in the title race on the same number of games as Cardiff.
Giants led after 20 minutes in the Storm Shelter thanks to Kyle Bun’s powerplay goal at 13-21. Dane Byers tied the game just past the halfway point, but Belfast were back ahead on the powerplay again through Jim Vandermeer at 35-42.
The game was turned on its head inside just over 100 seconds at the beginning of period three. Mike Hammond tied things up at 41-14 before Luke Moffatt gave the Storm their first lead of the game 28 seconds later.
Ciaran Long gave Storm a two-goal cushion with 7-47 to play before Byers made the game safe with 68 seconds to play, shooting into the empty net.
MK Lightning 4, Guildford Flames 3
Guildford missed out on the chance to extend their lead in fifth place as they went down against Lightning in Milton Keynes.
The first period ended with the teams tied at 1-1, thanks to two goals in 50 seconds. Michael Fine put the Lightning ahead at 11-01 before Evan Janssen levelled things up just before the 12 minute mark.
Early in the second period player-coach Tim Wallace put Lightning back in from and by 22-22 Andreas Valdix had pushed the hosts out to a 3-1 lead.
Ian Watters pulled the Flames back to within one, but Nelson Armstrong re-established the home side’s two-goal lead (49-01).
Brett Ferguson pulled the score back to 4-3 with 7-48 to play, but the Flames were unable to find a tying goal and MK celebrated a home win.
Elite League fixtures on Saturday, Sunday and next Wednesday:
Saturday 23: Cardiff Devils v Manchester Storm (7pm), Glasgow Clan v Nottingham Panthers (7pm), Sheffield Steelers v Milton Keynes Lightning (7pm), Fife Flyers v Guildford Flames (7.15pm).
Sunday 24: Belfast Giants v Sheffield Steelers (4pm), Dundee Stars v Cardiff Devils (5pm), Guildford Flames v Coventry Blaze (6pm), Fife Flyers v Nottingham Panthers (6.30pm).
Wednesday 27: Coventry Blaze v Belfast Giants (7.30pm).
ELITE ICE HOCKEY LEAGUE 2018/19
|Milton Keynes Lightning||56||15||37||4||34||.304||142||223||954||1-0|