It was the Dundalk Bulls’ players that shone out from the select team last Saturday night at a packed to the rafters Dundalk Ice Dome. Two goals out of three came from a local Dundalk line-up when the Dundalk Bulls / Latvian Hawks Select Team entertained the Coors Belfast Giants in a thrilling pre season match. It was evident that there is a considerable difference in playing ability between a professional team and an amateur team competing against each other.
The away team found their feet first on the ice, with a nice pass coming from Evan Cheverie who fed the puck to Brandon Benedict, a new signing for the giants, only for him to shoot the puck past Dennis Kurelass in nets and scoring the opening power play goal only two minutes into the game. The goals just kept coming for the away team, as Evan Cheverie and Tom Walsh, netted two more goals within four minutes of each other. It was not looking good for the select team as the first period was coming to a close, but the Giants showed strength as Colin Sheilds, who has been with the Giants for the last two seasons, netted two goals that he had to work for as Dennis Kurelass was not giving the Giants an easy match.
The second period scoring, surprisingly enough, was opened by the home side who got the ball rolling. A nice pass from Patrick Buda being fed to Aigars Brencis who shot the puck pass an unsuspecting Nathan Craze. The Giants immediately replied with a goal from Patrick Batemen, which proved to be the only goal that the Belfast team scored in the twenty minute period. The Giants’ defensive play went out the widow, as Sean Dooley from the Bulls found a way past Thornton’s men, and then made a precise pass to Michel Minarach who scored the third and final goal for the select side.
There was evidence that their coach Steve Thronton was not impressed with his team’s performance in the second period, as we were only a minute into the period when Mark Morrison scored his only goal of the game. Following on from Morrison’s goal, Brandon Benedict found an opening in the Giants net to score his second of the night and he didn’t stop there, as Colin Shields found Benedict in the slot and in response he scored his hat trick and the final goal of the game in this great exhibition match that has become an annual event.
Vytautas Lukosevicius, player for the Dundalk Bulls said ‘It was a great game playing against a professional team and we are improving year by year as the goal scoring difference was lower then last year’. He continued ‘You have to remember that the Giants are a professional and paid team and train five times a week, while this year we didn’t have any training for the select team’. The solid forward concluded ‘ I’m really looking forward to the upcoming season.
Final Score – Hawks / Bulls select – 3 Belfast Giants – 10