The Belfast Giants won a dramatic Challenge Cup encounter with the Braehead Clan on Saturday night when Chris Higgins scored with 6.1 seconds remaining in the game to give the home side a come from behind 5-4 victory.
There were five lead changes during a thrilling sixty minutes with Colin Shields grabbing a hat-trick for the Giants, his third goal tying the game with only 1:39 to go.
The Giants now have three wins in the Challenge Cup Group stages after previous victories over Edinburgh and Dundee also doubled up as league games.
The Giants iced without captain Adam Keefe who was handed a three-match suspension by the Elite League for checking to the head after an incident in Friday night’s 5-3 win over the Dundee Stars.
The first period was high tempo hockey as both teams made a physical start to the game.
The Giants took the lead seconds after a powerplay had expired when defenceman Jeff Mason, who was trailing the play, found a loose puck and beat Clan netminder Kyle Jones. The goal was timed at 11:51.
The visitors turned the game around in the second period with goals from former Giant Matt Towe and Ed McGrane on the powerplay but the Giants came storming back with a couple of markers from Colin Shields with the man advantage of their own, the second coming after a late hit on Darryl Lloyd by Chris Frank as a little nastiness crept in between the teams.
The Giants held the lead for less than twenty seconds as Nathan Moon made it 3-3 almost immediately.
McGrane’s second goal of the game at 42:01 put the visitors ahead once more and led to an end-to-end finale and just when it looked like the Giants would run out of time up stepped Shields to complete his hat-trick setting the scene for Higgins heroics as he fired the puck on net from behind the goal line and it hit Jones on the back and trickled in.
“It was a very entertaining game for the fans and we left it late but I thought overall we were the better team and created more chances. They played a good game also and gave us a bit of trouble at times but in the end we found a way to win the game and I pleased with the character the guys showed to play for the full sixty minutes and not give up,” said Giants coach Paul Adey.
The Giants will be back in Elite League action with away games in Nottingham and Hull this weekend.