Elite League: Riley hits hat-trick as Giants beat Lightning to go top
Blair Riley bagged a treble as Belfast Giants hammered MK Lightning 5-1 at the SSE Arena on Friday night to return to the top of the Elite League.
Lewis Hook put the hosts in front early in the first period and Riley doubled Belfast's advantage.
Riley struck again to make it 3-0 nine minutes into the second period before Darcy Murphy added the fourth.
Cole Shudra scored a consolation goal midway through the final period before Riley completed his hat-trick.
The Giants got off to the perfect start when Hook slammed home the opening goal after four minutes as Milton Keynes netminder Adam Goss was left exposed, scrambling to cover the loose puck until the defenceman pounced.
David Rutherford then hit the frame of the goal as the home side dominated the opening period.
The Giants' second goal came in the 16th minute and owed much to Patrick Dwyer, whose mazy skate on goal ended with a set-up pass for captain Riley to fire home from close range.
Riley added to his tally by finishing with aplomb past Goss when presented with a one-on-one opportunity.
Darcy Murphy then made it 4-0, consolidating his position as the Giants' leading goalscorer this season with 23 goals.
Tyler Beskorowany, in the Giants goal, was denied a shutout when Shudra netted 10 minutes from the end for the visitors.
Riley had the final say as he finished the contest with an unassisted and short-handed goal.
The Giants have two more home games to come over the weekend, starting with the visit of Glasgow Clan on Saturday night.