More than 600 Devils fans were at the SSE Arena in Belfast for game one against Devils.

Giants Await Devils’ Backlash In Second Hockey Blockbuster

Belfast Giants 4, Cardiff Devils 2

Belfast Giants expect a Cardiff Devils backlash at the SSE Arena this evening after the teams fought out a ferocious battle on Friday.

“It will be even harder,” said Giants coach Adam Keefe.

“We expect Cardiff to be a little bit better tomorrow, and hopefully we’ll be more so. 

“We’re at home, we want to feed off the energy of the home crowd and continue to push forward. It’s important we rise to the occasions and elevate our game.”

More than 600 Devils fans are in Northern Ireland for this crunch Elite League title clash and Devils lost after making two defensive errors in the last seven minutes.

Devils’ Joey Haddad celebrates his goal against Giants. Pic: William Cherry.

Both Belfast goals were unassisted and the direct result of mistakes. Devils will reflect on the breakdowns which sent them crashing.

Sean Bentivoglio returns for Devils this evening after completing a two-game suspension and will add to Cardiff’s firepower.

“There were plenty of parts to our game that I liked,” said head coach Andrew Lord. “If we can eliminate the big plays we’ll be in a much better spot on Saturday,” said Cardiff coach Andrew Lord.

Belfast’s win leaves them one point behind League leaders Devils, who have a game in hand.

Two defensive zone turnovers by Devils helped Belfast snatch victory last night.

It was a heartbreaking defeat for Lord’s men in a match which could have gone either way.

Belfast scored first with Dustin Johner beating Ben Bowns after a slick pass by Darcy Murphy to make it 1-0 at three minutes 22 seconds.

At 13-22 Joey Haddad, making his 300th EIHL appearance, tied the game with Layne Ulmer and Charles Linglet drawing the assists.

The game was still 1-1 after two periods before Jordan Smotherman broke the deadlock on a powerplay at 48-19 after the Devils battled to kill off the first of two penalties and a 5on3 advantage for the Giants.  

A bad line change by Devils during the 5v3 allowed Smotherman to skate into the zone and pick his spot to fire past Ben Bowns at 49:18.

Devils came straight back with a powerplay goal of their own at 51-32 when Gleason Fournier fired a wrist shot from the blueline through traffic to beat goalie Tyler Beskorowany and make it 2-2.

Belfast Giants’ Kyle Baun with Cardiff Devils’ Mark Louis during Friday’s Elite Ice Hockey League game at the SSE Arena. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Two unassisted goals from the Giants after defensive mishaps by the Devils sealed the home win. Darcy Murphy scored the game winner at 53-37 before Blair Riley adding the empty net goal at 59 minutes.  

Josh Batch fanned on a pass which allowed Murphy in on goal, and although goalie Bowns makde the initial save, the Giants’ forward found a fortunate rebound to fire home at 53-37. 

Late in the game Devils tried to get Bowns to the bench for the extra attacker, but found the Giants’ forechecking too good to stop it.

Gleason Fournier was then dispossessed by Riley, who shot past Bowns to make it 4-2 and clinch victory.

Devils goalie Ben Bowns saves from Darcy Murphy, but the Belfast forward steered the loose puck into Cardiff’s net. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Saturday fixtures: Belfast Giants v Cardiff Devils (7pm), Milton Keynes Lightning v Manchester Storm (7pm), Nottingham Panthers v Glasgow Clan (7pm), Sheffield Steelers v Coventry Blaze (7pm), Fife Flyers v Dundee Stars (7.15pm).

Match stats:

Scorers, Giants: Duston Johner 1+0, Jordan Smotherman 1+0. Darcy Murphy 1+1, Blair Riley 1+0, Kyle Baun 0+1, Chris Higgins 0+1, Josh Roach 0+1.

Devils: Joey Haddad 1+0, Gleason Fournier 1+0, Layne Ulmer 0+1, Charles Linglet 0+1, Matt Pope, Mike Hedden.

Period scores (Giants first): 1-1; 0-0 (1-); 3-1 (4-2).

Shots on goal: Giants (on Bowns) 12+11+8=31; Devils (on Beskorowany) 10+14+9=33.

Penalties in minutes: Giants 2+8+4=14; Devils 2+8+4=14

Special teams: Giants PK 4/5, PP 1/5; Devils PK 4/5, PP 1/5.

Men of the match: Giants, Jordan Smotherman; Devils, Matt Pope.

Referees: Tom Pering and Tom Darnell.

Attendance: 5,812.

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