THE Belfast Giants showed why they’re the team to beat at the Final Four in Nottingham next weekend as they throttled the Dundee Stars 14-0 on aggregate over the two games of their play-off quarter-final clash.
This was never really a contest from the time the Giants opened the scoring in the first leg at the Odyssey Arena on Saturday night when defenceman Jeff Mason broke the stubborn resistance of the Stars at 11:33 when he followed the play and knocked the puck over the line after a scramble in the crease.
A second goal for the Giants came, as they were shorthanded as Craig Peacock found the net at 22:18. They increased their lead with a powerplay goal from Robert Dowd at 31:39 and then Jon Pelle added a fourth at 36:18.
The Giants dominance continued in the third period but they only managed the one goal, their fifth of the night as Mike Hoffman was the man on target as he netted with 57 seconds remaining.
It was the eighth shut-out of the season for netminder Stephen Murphy and he would share his ninth with the ever improving Andrew Dickson last night as the Giants made short work of the Scottish side with four first period goals.
Aaron Clarke scored twice within the first 2:33 of the puck drop with Mark Garside and Peacock adding further markers before the end of the opening twenty minutes.
The second period became disjointed with the frustration of the Stars manifesting itself with two fights as the Giants Nick Kuiper and Darryl Lloyd took care of their business. Lloyd and Robert Dowd found the net to increase the lead to 6-0.
The Giants satisfied themselves with just three more goals in the final period as Mike Hoffman, Gareth Roberts and Dowd again compounded the Stars agony.
So now there remains just one more weekend left in the season and in Saturday’s Final Four semi-finals the Giants will face the Cardiff Devils, who took care of Coventry while the Nottingham Panthers, victorious in overtime against the Braehead Clan, will take on the surprising Hull Stingrays, who ended Sheffield’s season.
The odds are on a Giants versus Panthers final on Easter Sunday and that would be a fitting end to the season with Doug Christiansen’s side looking to win the league/playoffs double for the first time in the club’s history.