Belfast Giants win in Cardiff to lift Challenge Cup

Belfast Giants captain Blair Riley lifts the Challenge Cup in Cardiff. Credit: Cardiff Devils
  • Cardiff Devils 3 - 6 Belfast Giants

The Belfast Giants have ended their trophy drought in style, with a convincing 6-3 win over the reigning league champions Cardiff to lift the Challenge Cup.

It gives the Belfast team their first silverware since winning the Elite League title in the 2013/14 season.

And it can only be all the more special for being the first trophy lifted under the leadership of former talisman captain-turned-rookie head coach Adam Keefe.

Giants backup netminder Andrew Dickson helps coach Adam Keefe celebrate. Credit: Cardiff Devils

The Giants went into Sunday's game in Wales as the relative underdogs, with the Devils having the added advantage of playing on home ice.

However, the team were in little doubt what was expected of them, with hundreds of the Teal Army faithful battling weather-related transport woes just to be there to back them.

And, while the Giants went a goal down early doors, they dug deep to restore parity and went on to storm to the win.

Layne Ulmer grabbed the opening goal for Andrew Lord's Devils less than three minutes in.

However, the second period saw Brandon Benedict score from a Steve Saviano assist to level things back up.

Gleason Fournier's powerplay goal then restored the Devils' lead.

John Kurtz was among the goal scorers for the Giants. Credit: Cardiff Devils

But goals from John Kurtz and Jonathan Ferland put the Giants in the driving seat before the end of that middle period of action.

They took that narrow 3-2 lead into what was sure to be a big final 20 minutes, while the Devils knew they would be returning on the penalty kill with Sean Bentivoglio called for roughing.

While the Giants couldn't capitalise on the powerplay, a fourth goal did come for them just under five minutes into the third - courtesy of Matt Towe.

Giants forward Matt Towe celebrates another goal against the Devils. Credit: Cardiff Devils

Then Darcy Murphy's unassisted effort extended the Giants' lead to 5-2 with just eight minutes still to play.

Jake Morissette did find his way past Jackson Whistle in the Belfast net, while the Devils were on the powerplay, to keep his side within two goals of the visitors.

But, with Ben Bowns pulled for the extra Cardiff skater, Jonathan Ferland fired the puck home to make it 6-3 with just over three minutes to go.

The Giants rush to celebrate their huge win. Credit: Cardiff Devils

It seemed hugely unlikely that the Devils could find a way to salvage the game.

And, sure enough, the travelling Belfast fans roared down the clock on a hard-earned victory for their team.