Belfast Giants secure Conference title and are back on top of Elite League

Patrick Dwyer’s double helped Belfast Giants to a 2-1 win over Coventry Blaze and a return to the top of the league.

Sunday, 17th March 2019, 8:53 pm
Updated Sunday, 17th March 2019, 10:01 pm
Belfast Giants' Patrick Dwyer celebrates scoring against Coventry Blaze

Cardiff Devils’ defeat by Sheffield Steelers saw the Giants go top by virtue of one more regulation win but the Welsh side have a game in hand.

Dwyer put the SSE Arena hosts 2-0 in front before Luke Ferrara pulled one back as the Giants completed a 24-hour double over Coventry.

Giants netminder Stephen Murphy starred with 31 saves on Saturday night.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In the absence of Tyler Beskorowany the Giants back-up was vital to victory in both games against Coventry.

After a scoreless first period in which both sides had a couple of powerplay opportunities but could do nothing with them, it was the Giants who eventually broke the deadlock with the man advantage at 24:47.

There’s no way through for Coventry’s Alex Nikiforuk as Stephen Murphy prepares to make the save

There’s no way through for Coventry’s Alex Nikiforuk as Stephen Murphy prepares to make the save

Quick puck movement between the five skaters allowed Dustin Johner and Kyle Baun to pull the Blaze netminder Matt Hackett out of position and set up Dwyer with an unguarded net to shoot at.

At the other end the Giants penalty kill was led by Murphy who made a number of big saves to keep the Blaze off the board, none more so than the stop on Kevin Morris on a clean breakaway.

The game was becoming a grind with a lot of huffing and puffing but neither side able to blow the other away.

Eventually eight minutes into the final period Dwyer got his second goal of the game, following up a turnover by Darcy Murphy.

The former NHL star dragged the puck from behind the goal line to in front of the net, waited on Hackett to commit himself before roofing the puck high over the goalie’s shoulder.

The breathing space didn’t last long with the Blaze getting on the scoreboard on the powerplay at 50:19 through a deflected effort from Ferrara.

However, the Giants held on for two more vital points to keep their title chances alive, this win securing the Erhardt Conference champions, winning it for the third time.