Ballymoney’s Andrew Dickson was first choice netminder for the Stena Line Belfast Giants when they took on Italian Serie A side SG Cortina in an exciting two-game series and he helped his side to a double victory.
The ‘Olympic Series’ took place at The SSE Arena, Belfast and the home side took to the ice in specially commissioned pink jerseys covered in hearts for Valentine’s weekend which were all then raffled off after the game.
In the first of the two games, the Giants and SG Cortina, who play in Italy’s top league against Brunico, Gherdeina, Asiago, Vipiteno, Renon, Valpellice and Fassa, played out a scoreless opening period despite powerplay opportunities for both sides.
In the second period, Cortina fired ahead early on with a goal from Saverio Posa less than 30 seconds in. In the third period, the hosts struck early with an equaliser from Kris Beech inside the first minute and they went on to take the lead when Brandon Benedict grabbed their second goal of the night.
However, Cortina found an equaliser with just under seven minutes to go via Marcello Ranallo to take the game to 2-2. Giants captain Adam Keefe put his side back in front after assists by Jeff Mason and Mitch Ganzak and they went on to take the 3-2 win.
The Belfast Giants did the double on the Italian side in the second of their ‘Olympic Series’ games with a 6-3 win. In the first period, the Giants took the lead when Brandon Benedict found his way past Martino Valle Da Rin in the Cortina net, after assists from Mike Wilson and David Rutherford on the powerplay, while Cortina’s Angelo Esposito sat in the penalty box for two minutes for high sticking.
In the second period, the Giants fired ahead early on with a goal from Chris Higgins less than two minutes in and five minutes later Kris Beech extended the hosts’ lead to 3-0. Cortina pulled a goal back through Angelo Esposito.
With just under two minutes to go before the final break, Michael Forney struck for the Giants to make it 4-1. He found the net again with the hosts’ fifth goal.
In the last 20 minutes of action, Cortina fired home two quick goals to take the game to 5-3. However, Forney struck again to round off his hat-trick after assists from Beech and Junior Belfast Giant Adam Robinson, with the Giants taking the 6-3 win.
Ballymoney’s Dickson will be hoping to be selected as first choice netminder and get more ice time as the remainder of the season plays out.