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Giants show true grit for wins

True grit and determination of the Belfast Giants was on show last weekend as the secured two significant wins.

Belfast Giants’ Scott Conway and David Goodwin with Fife Flyers’ James Isaacs during Saturday’s Elite Ice Hockey League game at the SSE Arena, Belfast
Belfast Giants’ Scott Conway and David Goodwin with Fife Flyers’ James Isaacs during Saturday’s Elite Ice Hockey League game at the SSE Arena, Belfast

In both games the Giants had to come from behind to secure the wins. In Nottingham the victory had to come from a penalty shootout – the second in a week.

On the Saturday the Giants came from a goal down to score seven unanswered in a comprehensive defeat of the Fife Flyers at the SSE Arena.

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Meanwhile, in Nottingham Giants had trailed 2-0 heading into the third period in what turned out to be an utter thriller.

The Giants were much improved offensively and notably tighter at the back as a crucial third period began.

It took eight minutes for Adam Keefe’s side to get on the board, as Sam Ruopp’s puck from the blueline was redirected at the edge of the crease by Scott Conway at 48.36.

And in the most dramatic fashion imaginable, Mark Cooper fired the puck home in the midst of a net-front scramble to tie the game with an unbelievable 0.4 seconds of regulation remaining.

With the game scoreless in overtime the sides had to settle the game in a penalty shootout.

Following unsuccessful attempts from Doggett, Piccinich and Lake it was Mark Cooper who finally beat Kevin Carr from the mid slot.

Matt Lane needed to score as he stared down Jackson Whistle, but the Giants’ goalie pulled off a shootout winning save for the second Sunday in a row.

Speaking after returning from Nottingham Scott Conway agreed that it had been an important weekend for the Giants as they pushed forward in the league.

“We got four points at the end of the day and that’s the most important thing.

“We had to battle through in both games, especially when we had a couple of periods which weren’t going our way.

“We stuck with it and we came out strong, especially in that third period in Nottingham, we took over the game that period and didn’t let up on the Panthers.

“And we finally got rewarded in the final seconds which was so important.”

The Panthers did appear to have been an improved side since the Giants last met them in the league.

Conway said: “They have got a new coach and couple new players. Sometimes that’s all it takes to lift and creates a little spark for them.

“I think that we brought the game to them the last few games before last weekend and they were ready for us this time round.

“We didn’t play bad against them, we just didn’t execute as well as we probably should have and next thing you know we are down 2-0.

“That forced us to claw our way back into the game and it ended in the shootout win.

“Which, all-in-all, is rewarding for us, the knowledge that you can stick through a tough game and win.”