I’m so happy I was able to watch my first Giants game today, well I guess it was yesterday now. I didn’t get to start it until much later than I wanted to, and it took a lot longer than I wanted it to but I‘ve watched all 60 minutes and loved it all.
If you want to know what I thought of the broadcast and the crowd and everything outside of the hockey itself, check out the video I put up on my YouTube page and have already shared to my Twitter. I‘ll put it at the bottom of this blog post, too.
What I’m going to write about here isn’t going to be the box score since you can find that pretty much anywhere else. This is going to be my thoughts on the game.
I thought that the Giants had good composure on their first penalty kill of the game. Even though the Clan were able to get set up and have a few chances, the PK unit wasn’t phased by the pressure and took everything in stride. They were calm, cool and collected until they could clear the puck.
The success on the PK I think led to some goof play from the home team including two great goals. The first one was just a great shot, and the second was an equally good shot. That’s what you have to do to win games, whether you’re taking a lot of penalties or not. You need to build on things like successful penalty kills and turn them into goals. Keep that momentum on your side. That’s part of the fundamentals of hockey.
I mentioned this in my video a few times I think, but I love the skating that the bigger ice surface allows for in the EIHL and one player that really stood out to me in that regard was Ryan Lowney. There’s just something about how he carries the puck forward and goes from end to end with such grace that makes me fall in love with hockey all over again. It’s just so nice to watch. I might go back and watch the first period again just to see him skate with the puck.
The final notes I have from the first period have to do with the first powerplay opportunity for the Belfast Giants. I thought the Giants PP looked good, but was a bit off. What I mean by that is that the players were in the right positions and they passed it at the right times to the right players, but the passes themselves were just a bit off.
First thing I have to say about the second period is OH MY GOODNESS WHAT A SHOT FROM GOODWIN! To put it top corner like that....it’s a thing of beauty. Especially from the angle and distance he was from goal. I just watched it a few more times. It was a great set-up by Lake, too. It wouldn’t have been that pretty without a pretty pass.
I thought the Giants had good energy in the first bit of the middle frame, but the too many men call just took a lot of the wind out of the teams’ sails.
One player who I think really helped the team calm down and stay with the lead was Shane Owen. The Markham, Ontario native did well with rebound control and put his trust in the centres to win the draws that would follow.
The second is where I found myself starting act more like a fan than an analyst. Lowney got called for slashing, which in my humble opinion was a WEAK call. In my opinion, that’s only a slash if you’re looking to call a penalty. But I digress..
I thought Raine and Leonard did a FANTASTIC job on the PK together while they were out. They both just seem to be so smart positionally, which makes it easy to know where the other is and be able to work together as a unit to clear the puck from the zone.
The Clans’ first goal, which was scored while they were on the powerplay, was the captains fault. Matt Pelech went down for the block to...well....block the shot, but instead blocked Owen’s view which meant he couldn’t see it and the team from Glasgow scored.
Overall throughout the second I thought the Giants took far too many penalties, which as Liam Reddox said during the Giants TV broadcast, has been a bit of an issue throughout the whole season.
Even though it’s a penalty against the Clan, it takes a lot of stones for a ref to call an abuse of official penalty. I’ve heard a lot of crap said towards officials and no penalty be given, so to be given an abuse of official penalty in a professional hockey game? Sheesh. On second thought if it’s THAT bad I don’t want to know what the Clan player said.
Anyways. On to the third period.
The Clan would climb back into the game early on on a quick goal, off a quick shot off a turnover. You can’t turn the puck over in your own zone when the whole five-man unit isn’t back and ready to defend.
I think my favourite goal of the game was the fifth one for the Giants, scored by Paul Swindlehurst. It was an absolute rocket from the point, but my favourite part of the goal is how the scoring play started. Kevin Raine had the puck deep in the Belfast zone, and sprung his team onto the attack with a fantastic stretch pass. Raine didn’t get a point on the goal, but it wouldn’t have happened without him.
The glass delay (at least I think it was glass, they never really said what it was in the broadcast) proved to be pretty entertaining for me. I loved the dancing in the Boomerang Corner. One thing I liked even more is that instead of what I expected afterwards when play resumed, which was sluggish play from both teams, the Giants actually looked like they had more energy than they did before. More drive, more jump, more swagger. I loved it.
I also really loved how they played right to the final whistle. They had a scoring chance, and rather than just waiting for the clock to run out they kept going until it actually did. Fantastic win, lads. Well done.
I’m so glad my first Giants game was a win. I can’t wait to watch the next game against the Flames. I’m not sure if I’ll be watching it or not, but I’ll definitely be following along and have another blog post up afterwards for you to enjoy!
Oh, and here’s the reaction video I did if you’re interested in watching that.