Double delight for Belfast Giants over Nottingham Panthers

The Belfast Giants will have been pleased with their double delight against the Nottingham Panthers at the SSE Arena last weekend.
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Back-to-back wins against the Panthers have secured the Giants four important points and helped move them into second place in the EIHL.

Both returnees former Giants’ captain David Goodwin and defenceman Will Cullen were on the team sheet for both games, and they made their presence known throughout the two games.

On Friday Myles McGurty put the Panthers ahead with under two minutes gone, but things were all square after the opening 20 minutes thanks to Ara Nazarian's tying goal at 13.51.

Belfast Giants' Bobby McIntyre with Nottingham Panthers’ Mike Robinson during Friday nights EIHL game at the SSE arena, Belfast.   Photo by William Cherry/PresseyeBelfast Giants' Bobby McIntyre with Nottingham Panthers’ Mike Robinson during Friday nights EIHL game at the SSE arena, Belfast.   Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Belfast Giants' Bobby McIntyre with Nottingham Panthers’ Mike Robinson during Friday nights EIHL game at the SSE arena, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Belfast would lead through 40 minutes with a go-ahead goal in the middle period as Ciaran Long sent Will Cullen down the wing, with the defenseman cutting inside and firing on Mike Robinson. The initial shot was saved, but Cullen followed up in a crowd of players to force the puck over the line.

In the final period, Nottingham pulled Robinson with 72 seconds left in the search for a tying goal.

On Saturday night the Giants completed the weekend double over Panthers with a 4-2 win in front of over 7,000 fans.

Having only combined for three goals in 60 minutes on Friday night, the Giants and Panthers ran up the same total in the opening 20 minutes in part two of their double-header.

Belfast Giants' David Goodwin with Nottingham Panthers’ Myles McGurty during Friday nights EIHL game at the SSE arena, Belfast.   Photo by William Cherry/PresseyeBelfast Giants' David Goodwin with Nottingham Panthers’ Myles McGurty during Friday nights EIHL game at the SSE arena, Belfast.   Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Belfast Giants' David Goodwin with Nottingham Panthers’ Myles McGurty during Friday nights EIHL game at the SSE arena, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

At 3.50 on the clock when nice passing from the Giants on the powerplay saw Ben Lake shoot and Greg Printz put in the rebound from the top of the crease to open the scoring for the home side.

The Giants’ powerplay struck again, this time just after the Panthers had returned to four skaters, with Printz feeding Bobby MacIntyre on the far side of the zone to double the lead.

Nottingham stayed in the game through a nice Hugo Roy finish off a Carl Neill feed for a powerplay goal with three minutes left in the first period.

The crucial next goal came just short of 15 minutes into the second. Ara Nazarian and Ben Lake combined for a two-on-one play with the former finishing it off to extend the Giants’ lead out to 3-1.

Belfast Giants' Josh Roach with Nottingham Panthers’ Carl Neill and Roy Hugo during Friday nights EIHL game at the SSE arena, Belfast.   Photo by William Cherry/PresseyeBelfast Giants' Josh Roach with Nottingham Panthers’ Carl Neill and Roy Hugo during Friday nights EIHL game at the SSE arena, Belfast.   Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Belfast Giants' Josh Roach with Nottingham Panthers’ Carl Neill and Roy Hugo during Friday nights EIHL game at the SSE arena, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Otto Nieminen brought the Panthers back to within one, again, 3.26 into the final period as they refused to back down.

The goal that settled things came with 10.40 left to play off the stick of Oliver Cooper. He picked the puck up on his own blue line, skated into the Panthers’ zone, cut in from the wing and beat Rok Stojanovič for an excellent goal to give Belfast a 4-2 lead.

This time, the Giants held on to their two goal lead and moved into the second place in the standings.