Belfast Giants start defence with victory over Dundee Stars

The Belfast Giants opened the competitive season with a 4-1 win over Dundee Stars
The Belfast Giants opened the competitive season with a 4-1 win over Dundee Stars

The Belfast Giants began the defence of their Elite League crown with a 4-1 away win over Dundee Stars on Friday.

Canadian winger Raymond Sawada, Craig Peacock, Darryl Lloyd and Evan Cheverie were on target for the Giants, with Brad Plumton scoring for Dundee.

The game also counted towards the Challenge Cup group stages so there was double delight for Steve Thornton.

Thornton was taking charge of the team for the first time in his second stint as coach, having also been a player.

The Giants iced without defenceman Jeff Mason and forward Mark McCutcheon but new signings Mike Kompon and Sawada made their debuts for the club.

Both teams spent most of the opening stages of the game sizing each other up but it sparked into life at 15:54 when Giants captain Adam Keefe and the Stars Plumton dropped the gloves with Keefe getting the takedown, but he also got the rarely enforced instigator penalty and a 10-minute misconduct.

His team-mates killed the extra two minutes and then after Chris Blight took a charging penalty the Giants scored the first goal of the new Elite League season.

It came at 18:24 on the powerplay with Calvin Elfring and Craig Peacock assisting on Sawada's strike, the Canadian power forward, who made it all the way to the NHL with the Dallas Stars, opening his account having only arrived in Belfast on Wednesday.

The Giants struck again with the man advantage early in the second period with Kompon getting his first point for his new team, assisting on a goal for Craig Peacock at 23:03 and shortly afterwards Lloyd made it 3-0 at 25:36 converting a pass from Cheverie.

Dundee regrouped and before the second intermission pulled a goal back, capitalising on a turnover by the Giants with Plumton scoring at 36:40.

Lloyd almost added to the lead in the final twenty minutes but saw his effort ring the crossbar and it was left to Cheverie to score the empty netter to give the Giants the 4-1 victory with just a couple of seconds left.

The Giants are in the same Challenge Cup group as the four Scottish teams and tonight's clash in Braehead and tomorrow's against Edinburgh count only in that competition with their next league game at the Odyssey Arena next Friday night, also against Edinburgh.