It’s been nine years since Robby Sandrock played a game at the Odyssey Arena.
The defenceman was a linchpin of the Superleague play-off winning side in 2003 and his trademark was a rocket of a shot.
Since then he’s played in Germany and Austria but this summer signed for a second spell with the Belfast Giants.
On Thursday night, in the home opener, Sandrock turned back the clock with two blasts that were enough to secure a hard fought 2-1 victory over the Dundee Stars.
Before the game the Giants fans observed a minutes silence as they joined with the sporting community of Northern Ireland to pay their respects to Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence who so tragically died along with his father Noel and brother Graham in a farming accident last Saturday.
Once the game got underway the Stars showed they weren’t here to make up the numbers forcing Giants netminder Stephen Murphy into a number of good saves early on and they took the lead at 8:36 although the goal had a lot of luck involved.
The puck was deflected of a stick and up in front of Murphy who couldn’t coral it and it bounced down behind him and across the line. AJ MacLean got credit for the goal.
But as the period wore on the Giants began to dominate and equalized on the powerplay at 11:12.
Scott Champagne left the puck for Sandrock who launched himself into a slap shot from the right point and with traffic in front of the Dundee net, goalie Nic Riopel had no chance.
Sandrock’s shot hasn’t lost any of its power and accuracy in the intervening years.
The second period was full of honest endeavor from both sides with the highlight a massive hit by Darryl Lloyd that got the crowd going but there was little in the way of clear cut scoring opportunities although the home side were guilty of squandering those that came their way and both netminders made the stops they had to although there was decisively more rubber hurled in the direction of Riopel.
Before the game Christiansen said that he believed the Stars puck stopper would be one of the best in the league this season and as the game moved into the closing stages it remained 1-1 mainly due to his excellent play between the pipes.
With his side needing a spark it was the Giants captain, Adam Keefe, who took it upon himself to try and ignite his team mates, dropping the gloves and hammering Greg Moore and almost immediately it had an effect.
Pat Bowen took a penalty for the visitors and with six seconds left of the man advantage at 50:12 Sandrock loaded and fired the Giants in front with his second goal of the game.
The Giants penalty kill, which was so poor last weekend in Nottingham, had to go to work to preserve the lead but they managed to see off a four minute call on Lloyd for accidental hi-sticking and shut the door the rest of the way.
Next up a tough trip to the Sheffield Steelers on Sunday.