Belfast Giants lose out in Challenge Cup against Nottingham Panthers

Matt Towe (of the Belfast Giants
Matt Towe (of the Belfast Giants

The Belfast Giants were edged out 4-3 in their Challenge Cyp semi-final second leg clash with the Nottingham Panthers on Tuesday night.

The defeat at the Odyssey Arena saw the Giants eventually boy out 9-4 on aggregate.

This game turned out to be a damp squib, as many thought it would be, after the Nottingham Panthers won the first leg of the Challenge Cup semi-final 5-1 a fortnight ago.

From the start the Giants took it to the Panthers looking to eat into the four-goal deficit.

At 10:37 they took the lead after Noah Clarke stormed into the Panthers zone with speed and after playing the puck to and receiving it from Matt Towe he played it back to his team mate who knocked it into a vacant net.

But the home side couldn’t hold the lead until the first intermission with Kelsey Wilson equalizing with 28.5 seconds remaining to tie the game.

In the second period the Giants had a number of great opportunities to retake the lead and they eventually converted one at 26:20 when Jeff Mason set up Colin Shields to finish.

Moments later Daymen Rycroft hit the post and the Giants missed out on a couple of powerplay chances and the Panthers made the most of one of theirs through Neil Francis to knot the game at 2-2.

Within 12 seconds the Giants were ahead on the night again when Mason scored but as the game became most chippy it was a five minute plus game misconduct call on Giants forward Darryl Lloyd that stopped any come back in its tracks.

The call angered the Giants supporters and rightly so as referee Michael Hicks missed the infraction only to take advice from his linesman.

With a further penalty called on the Giants the Panthers scored with the two-man advantage when the puck unfortunately went in off the skate of Mason.

Pat Galivan netted the game winner for the Panthers with under six minutes left.