Giants hurt Storm's title hopes

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The Independent Online

The Belfast Giants registered a fifth successive Sekonda Superleague victory as they dealt Manchester Storm's distant title hopes another setback.

The Belfast Giants registered a fifth successive Sekonda Superleague victory as they dealt Manchester Storm's distant title hopes another setback.

Sunday saw a rare away win for the Giants - currently the league's in-form team - as they had won just one of their 14 previous road games, a run that included two defeats at the MEN Arena, albeit by the odd goal. However, Dave Whistle's side laid their away-day hoodoo to rest with their 5-2 success in Manchester.

After Storm's Corey Spring had cancelled out Jeff Hoad's opener, Belfast took control with Hoad adding a second goal by the end of the first period. A Colin Ward brace and a marker from Rod Stevens ensured it was a debut to forget for the new Storm netminder Pat Mazzoli, with Kevin Brown scoring a late consolation.

The Ayr Scottish Eagles are up to second place following a 6-2 victory over the London Knights - who have now lost their last four matches - courtesy of an Ed Courtenay hat-trick. After letting Manchester score five unanswered goals to lose 9-6 after leading 6-4, Ayr were in no mood for another failure in front of their fans at The Centrum.

The Eagles, who went into the encounter following a three-game losing run, established a 4-0 lead inside 32 minutes as Johan Silfwerplatz, Shawn Byram and Courtenay at the double sent London reeling. Knights threatened a comeback with two late second period goals from Terry Marchant and Neal Martin, but Ayr sealed their win in the final session, with Tony Hand adding a shorthanded fifth and Courtenay completing his hat-trick.

The Newcastle Jesters scored three goals in the space of four minutes in the third period to beat the Bracknell Bees 6-4, quickly avenging Sunday's 2-1 home defeat.

Jesters' Matthew Oates opened the scoring at Amen Corner, but the Bees responded with a powerplay goal from Dan Ceman and markers from Darren Hurley and Steve O'Rourke to lead 3-1 at the midway point. Newcastle hit back through Arrtu Kayhko and Tero Arkiomaa, but a Jason Mansoff powerplay goal made it 4-3 to the Bees. However, the Jesters' final period blitz, with Tomas Kupka, Eric Fenton and Oates all finding the net, ensured the visitors' victory.

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