The Belfast Giants slumped to their first defeat of the new Elite League season as they were beaten 5-0 by the Coventry Blaze at the Odyssey Arena on Saturday.
After a successful opening weekend in which Paul Adey’s side recorded two victories, outscoring Edinburgh and Cardiff 12-2, this was a reality check and a result, especially at home, that the players will be determined doesn’t get repeated.
It’s not that the team played badly, in fact they out-shot the Blaze 40-21 but they couldn’t find a way past the impressive visiting netminder Mike Zacharias who was the man of the match as he made 40 saves for the shut-out.
“Their goalie played unbelievable, we out-shot them two-to-one but to lose a game, anytime in the season, 5-0 at home is unacceptable for a club like ourselves who are supposed to be up there challenging for the league.
“So as you could see there is a lot of work still needs to be done because even if you are creating a lot of chances you still can’t afford to give them easy chances like we did.
“Because if you’re not scoring then if they get a couple of bounces you end up being down in the game quickly,” said Giants forward Colin Shields afterwards.
The Blaze took advantage of an early powerplay when the Giants were caught out on a bad line change and Adam Henrich scored at 2:50.
It was the first time Adey’s side found themselves behind in a game this season.
They had plenty of opportunities to equalise but could find no way past Zacharias and they were hit on the counter attack at 10:46 when Michael Henrich, brother of Adam, ended up with a simple tap-in.
The third goal for the visitors came with the man advantage at 24:24 when Ryan Ginand produced an outstanding individual piece of skill before burying the puck past Stephen Murphy.
Zacharias continued to shut the door in the third period and Adam Henrich’s goal with just under six minutes left and another late on for Ginand rounded off the scoring and left the Giants with much to ponder before the home doubleheader against the Dundee Stars and Braehead Clan on Friday and Saturday night.
Shields added, “Dundee are off to a great start and every game this year is going to be challenging.”