Jordan Smotherman hits winner as Belfast Giants win Challenge Cup

Belfast Giants celebrate their Challenge Cup success
Belfast Giants celebrate their Challenge Cup success

The Stena Line Belfast Giants claimed their tenth major championship on Sunday defeating the Guildford Flames 2-1 after overtime in the 2019 Challenge Cup Final.

Jordan Smotherman’s overtime winner saw the Giants retain a title for the first time in the organisation’s history - winning back-to-back Challenge Cup championships.

The Giants impressed at The Viola Arena in Cardiff to give Head Coach Adam Keefe a second trophy in as many years in front of hundreds of loud travelling fans in Cardiff.

Tyler Beskorowany backstopped the Giants to the Challenge Cup win with the Belfast side missing Guillaume Gelinas, Jonathan Ferland and Andrew Dickson.

Both sides battled through a fast-paced first period in Cardiff.

The Flames outshot the Giants thanks to a powerplay at the halfway point - impressively killed off by Tyler Beskorowany and the Belfast penalty kill unit.

The Giants broke the deadlock in style in the opening minute of the middle period.

Josh Roach found Pat Dwyer who ripped home a fierce wrist shot top shelf to give his side a 1-0 lead at 20:33.

The Flames grabbed an equaliser with the game’s second powerplay goal through Jamie Crooks, assisted by Brett Ferguson and Ben Davies at 36:38.

The third period was another end-to-end affair as both sides went in search of a winner.

Both netminders Beskorowany and Carrozzi stood firm as the game went into a first period of overtime with Jonathan Boxill coming up with a huge block to stop the Flames from scoring a winner.

The game went into it’s first period of 20 minutes of overtime and the Giants fought off an energetic Flames with Beskorowany making a string of impressive saves.

The game winner came at 69:30 as Dustin Johner forced a turnover behind the Flames goal and fed the puck to Jordan Smotherman who fired home to clinch the 2019 Challenge Cup.

And Smotherman was delighted that his side got their hands on the trophy for the second year in a row.

“I am over the moon. It was a fun hockey game. There were loads of chances and they had a breakaway about ten seconds before we scored so it could have gone either way.

“But I could not have been happier for the guys in the team and the fans as well.

“The fans have helped us all season and for them to travel on a Sunday and come here for the final is great.

“They get right behind the team and to see support like this really helps the guys and they really lift us up when we are struggling. They are fantastic.”

And Smotherman believes winning the Challenge Cup will spur them on in their bid to claim the Elite League title.

“Yes at the start of the season these guys targeted the Challenge Cup and now we will focus on our next challenge.

“We will have a good time tonight and then get back to business,” he added.

And coach Adam Keefe was pleased with his players.

“Credit to the players for sticking with it right to the very end there and we played well defensively and when the chance came we took it.

“And thankfully in overtime we got that big goal. The guys did well tonight and we won the Cup.

The Giants homecoming following the Challenge Cup victory comes this weekend with back-to-back home games against the Coventry Blaze in Belfast - face-off 7pm on Friday and Saturday.