BELFAST GIANTS 2 GUILDFORD FLAMES 1 (OT)
Jordan Smotherman’s overtime winner was the one to make the difference as Belfast Giants won the Challenge Cup for the second straight year, overcoming a resolute display from Guildford Flames at the Viola Arena.
The 2-1 result was every bit as close as it suggests as Paul Dixon’s men matched Giants all the way in a tense game, but came up short as Giants’ #14 broke their hearts with the eventual winner.
Despite chances raining on both goalies, Tyler Beskorowany for Giants and Flames’ Chris Carrozzi kept their respective doors shut as both teams returned to the locker room with nothing to show for their efforts.
That changed 33 seconds after the restart when Calle Ackered was still sitting in the penalty box for an interference call late in the first as Patrick Dwyer fired a shot that took a deflection that beat Carrozzi to open the scoring, with Belfast in front.
Flames were level inside the final four minutes of the middle session, on the powerplay themselves, as Brett Ferguson teed up Jamie Crooks to crack one into the net and it was all square going into the final period.
Belfast had a couple of chances to win it in the third period, but couldn’t find a way through as the game got a little more edgier as time went on.
The buzzer sounded to signify an overtime period was needed to separate the teams for the right to take the trophy home. Nerves were frayed in the Welsh capital, knowing it could go one way or another.
Smotherman was the man to come up with the goods five minutes into the extra period to claim the glory, set up by Dustin Johner, who had robbed Jordan Abt of possession before setting up the Giants forward, who buried the chance for Belfast to asecured the silverware once again.