Months of planning and preparation reaped their rewards tonight as the Boston Bruins faced off against the Belfast Giants Elite League Selects, and as promised this was a stacked Boston Bruins lineup littered with present and future NHL All-Stars.
The first period saw Stephen Murphy start in goal for the Giants Selects whilst at the other end of the rink Tuukka Rask stood between the pipes for the Bruins. From the opening face-off the game was played at a ferocious pace and with only 21 ticks on the clock Mike Hoffman found himself sitting 2 minutes for tripping. On the powerplay the Bruins positioning and quick puck movement created numerous scoring opportunities to which the defence and Stephen Murphy were equal to.
Blocked shots and solid goaltending was the foundation of an impressive 1st period for the Giant who went into the period break tied with the NHL team and brimming with confidence.
The 2nd period followed a similar theme to the 1st with special teams getting plenty of ice time. At 35:36 Nottingham Panther’s Jade Galbraith gave the Giant Selects the go ahead goal as he skated in from the left wing alone and snapped a wrister top shelf beating Rask high over his catching glove.
The spectators had barely sat back in their seats when Giants centreman Josh Prudden was given a 2 minute penalty for tripping, and was joined less than 30 seconds later by Mike Hoffman who caught a Bruins player with a high stick.
The Giants weathered the storm, managing to kill off the 5 on 3 however with 10 seconds remaining on the powerplay, rookie Tyler Seguin bundled the puck over the line and the teams were level.
With the home team rocked Bruins captain Zdeno Chara gave his team the lead moments later as he came round the back of the net and lofted a backhand shot over Murphy’s right pad at 38:45.
Brad Marchand made it 3-1 at 39:10 when he fired a wrister from the top of the circle and beat Murphy over his glove to send send his team back to the locker room with a 2 goal advantage.
Having conceded 3 goals in quick succession you would have been forgiven if you expected the Giants Selects to return to the ice with their heads dropped. Instead the team came out rejuvenated and almost added to their tally with numerous powerplay opportunities.
Stephen Murphy at this point was well on his way to a man of the match performace as he was turning away shot after shot from the relentless Bruins forwards. Milan Lucic netted the Bruins 4th as he beat Murphy low on his stick side at 48:09 to add some daylight between the teams, however the pace and effort from the Giants Selects team never faltered.
Nearing the end of the game Jade Galbraith turned the puck over just inside the Giants blue line with an attempted pass to a team mate who stumbled leaving Tyler Seguin a breakaway opportunity.
Seguin was hooked as he was about to release his shot and was awarded a penalty shot at 56:22.
The rookie (who was drafted 2nd overall in the 2010 entry draft) skated one on one showing some moves and soft hands slipping with puck under Murphy to round off the scoring at 5-1.
After the formalities at the end of the game Bruins captain Zdeno Chara addressed the fans in attendance thanking the Giants and the people of Belfast for their hospitality on behalf of his team mates and the Bruins organisation.