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Six of the best as Belfast Giants put Manitoba to the sword

Belfast Giants 6-1 University of Manitoba Bisons

By Adam McKendry ·

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The Giants celebrate their second goal, scored by Curtis Leonard

The new-look Belfast Giants looked in fine fettle as they took the opening game of their pre-season doubleheader with University of Manitoba Bisons, winning 6-1 at the SSE Arena.

Four of the nine skating debutants scored in the win, while new netminder Tyler Beskorowany impressed in his first start for the side since joining from the Edinburgh Capitals.

Captain Blair Riley, yet to arrive forward Hunter Bishop and Matt Towe were all scratches for Adam Keefe's side, while the Bisons opposed Beskorowany with backup goalie Byron Spriggs between the pipes.

Belfast got off to a glorious start, dominating the early exchanges as Manitoba ran into penalty trouble, and at 7:15 it was Patrick Dwyer who got the opening goal with a one-timer from the slot after a turnover in the offensive zone.

That lead was then doubled when defenseman Curtis Leonard struck on the powerplay after good work from Kyle Baun at the crease, but the Bisons pulled one back at 14:15 when a turnover from Kendall McFaull allowed Bisons defenseman Mackenzie Dwyer to tap in a three-on-one.

But Belfast would lead by two going into the interval as Great Britain international Paul Swindlehurst caught out Spriggs with a slapshot at 19:24, and David Rutherford made it four just after the restart when he skated in from the left and picked his spot from the slot at 21:35.

It would be the Canadian visitors who would have the better of the middle period, however, but it was down to Beskorowany that the lead would still be three at going into the final 20 minutes.

The Canadian was in imperious form, denying Manitoba forward Devon Skolenski on a penalty shot after he was cynically pulled back in the act of shooting, before then pulling off an outstanding one-on-one block when Liam Bilton got a shorthanded breakaway.

The Giants' play was an aggressive penalty kill, and it was the instigator for their fifth at 46:19 when Darcy Murphy reached a loose puck first and beat Spriggs on the backhand for the shorthanded marker, and the sixth followed shortly after when Josh Roach's shot from the point was deflected in front by Lewis Hook and beat Spriggs five hole at 51:31.

The Manitoba goalie did regain some pride when he stood tall to blank Baun from close range as the game wound down into the final stages, but this was an impressive first performance from what is already looking an exciting Giants roster.

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The Giants celebrate their second goal, scored by Curtis Leonard