EIHL round-up:  Giants’ winning start, Storm top group, Panthers toil

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Belfast Giants made the perfect start to the defence of their league title with full points from their opening weekend.

They hit the road and skated to a solid 5-1 win at Guildford Flames, and a 4-2 victory in Wales over Cardiff Devils. They gave Paul Dixon’s side little chance to settle, blitzing them with three goals in the opening 13 minutes at The Spectrum, adding to the big question facing Flames this season - can they pull off a repeat of last season’s thrilling season long title challenge?

Giants struck first in Wales, but were held 1-0 in a game of fine netminding, and when they got to 3-1 in the middle period they were able to close the game out although they also had Greg Prinz thrown out for boarding late on.

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Sheffield Steelers enjoyed a solid 5-2 road win over Coventry Blaze with Robert Dowd netting twice. Steelers were 4-0 up after two periods after upping the pace in the second; a switch Danny Stewart, head coach, said Blaze didn’t handle. “It wasn’t good enough” he rued in his post-game analysis. “We got two goals back to make it a game but Sheffield were better team no doubt,”

Belfast Giants celebrate success in Cardiff (Pic: Rebecca Brain)Belfast Giants celebrate success in Cardiff (Pic: Rebecca Brain)
Belfast Giants celebrate success in Cardiff (Pic: Rebecca Brain)

The game came on the back of a long road trip back from Glasgow where Blaze bagged a 6-5 shoot out win over Clan, with Danny Kristo netting the decisive penalty. The result after 60 minutes gave Clan their first marker of the new season.

Manchester Storm went top of their Challenge Cup group with a splendid 7-4 win over Nottingham Panthers who seem set to endure another year of frustration if early results are anything to go by.

The fans at the Storm Shelter saw four goals in the opening 20 minutes which ended all square at 2-2, but the next 40 minutes saw Storm ease ahead with period scores of 2-1 and 3-1. Panthers coach Jonathan Paredes pulled his netminder with 3:28 to play as he looked to claw back one of the two back he needed, but the gamble backfired with Zach Sullivan scoring on the empty net with 2:46 to go.