The Belfast Giants kicked off their pre-season campaign in perfect fashion as goals from Colby McAuley, Ciaran Long and Mark Cooper earned them a 3-1 win over title rivals the Cardiff Devils at Ice Arena Wales.
ew winger McAuley opened the scoring in the first period, a goal which was negated by Joey Martin’s equaliser for the Devils in the second period, but Long and Cooper both struck in the third to earn the Giants the victory.
Adam Keefe’s side got a strong start from netminder Peyton Jones, who made some dazzling stops to keep the dangerous Devils at bay, allowing them to sneak the win in the third.
Jones made a sparkling start to the game as he denied Blake Thompson on a breakaway inside the opening two minutes, while at the other end the Giants failed to connect on two powerplays as Bayley Harewood (tripping) and Josh Brittain (slashing) both sat.
But McAuley had them ahead at the first intermission. David Gilbert battled hard behind the net to win the puck and he fed Tyler Soy. The centre then found McAuley in front for the finish at 16:11.
Jones made another big stop to deny Ryan Penny on the penalty kill as Matt Foley headed off for cross-checking, and the Giants survived a big scare early in the second period when Brodie Reid hit the post from the slot, and then they played out a tripping call against Kevin Raine, but at the third time of asking on the powerplay the Devils wouldn’t be denied.
It was Foley again off, this time for interference, and Martin was left free in the right circle to beat Jones low to tie it up at 14:29 of the middle frame.
But for Jones it could have been worse right at the end of the period, but the netminder thrust out a pad to deny a Devil what looked to be a definite goal at the back post right as the buzzer sounded.
And he was rewarded by his forwards as Long played a one-two with Sam Ruopp as the Giants caught the Devils on a change and the British forward finished backhanded past Ben Bowns to make it 2-1 at 9:45 of the final period.
The Giants had to kill off a late goaltender interference call on Gilbert, but once they played that out, Cooper made sure of the result with the empty netter with 11 seconds remaining.