Belfast Giants through to Finals after beating Stingrays

Jeffrey Szwez and Colin Shields of the Belfast Giants combine to hit Jeff Smith of the Hull Stingrays
Jeffrey Szwez and Colin Shields of the Belfast Giants combine to hit Jeff Smith of the Hull Stingrays

The Belfast Giants have made the Elite League Play-off Finals in Nottingham next weekend after a 7-3 aggregate victory over the Hull Stingrays at the weekend.

They followed up a 4-1 win in the away leg on Saturday with a 3-2 success at the Odyssey Arena on Sunday afternoon and although it wasn’t a convincing performance, in fact at one stage Hull pulled to within a goal, it was enough to get the job done.

However it came at a cost with winger Craig Peacock lost for the rest of the season with a knee injury suffered when he was flipped over by Stingrays defenceman Pavel Gomeniuk in Saturday night’s encounter,

The Hull player was given a three-match ban for clipping but Peacock’s loss is huge for the Giants especially on the powerplay where he has been lethal this season.

The Giants were also missing Adam Keefe last night but he is expected to be ready for Saturday’s semi-final against the surprising Fife Flyers.

In the other last four tie the Braehead Clan, who hammered the Nottingham Panthers, will take on either Sheffield or Coventry who meet tomorrow night with Sheffield holding a 3-2 advantage.

A scoreless tie in the game at the Odyssey was broken by the Stingrays in the second period when they netted two short-handed goals on the same powerplay for the Giants.

Both were scored by Carl Lauzon at 28:49 and then again at 29:53 and suddenly the Stingrays were within a goal and hearts were in mouths when Jereme Tendler hit the post for the second time and then rattled a shot off the crossbar.

The Giants needed something to settle any nerves and at 38:14 Colin Shields converted a Jeffrey Szwez pass to send them to the locker room with a two-goal lead to protect and twenty minutes remaining.

They finally found their stride in the third period with the equalising goal on the night coming from Kevin Saurette on the powerplay at 48:12.

With the result of the tie settled it was left to Darryl Lloyd to score the final goal at the Odyssey this season and it was one of the best seen over the past seven months. He pulled the puck from his forehand to his backhand, went around the defenceman and won the game with an accurate shot into the corner of the net.

In Saturday night’s first leg the Giants came from a goal down after the first period with strikes from Shields, Chris Higgins, Szwez and Saurette.