The Belfast Giants finished their busy holiday schedule with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Dundee Stars at the Odyssey Arena on Saturday night, a result that saw their winning streak halted at nine games.
However Paul Adey’s side demonstrated their never-say-die attitude by getting a late equalizing goal in regulation that gained a valuable point and at the end of the weekend their lead at the top of the Elite League was still a healthy twelve points.
It was a game that burst into life for short periods and was instead much more of a grind it out, physical encounter.
Both netminders, Stephen Murphy and Dan Bakala, were on top of their respective games in a scoreless first period but it was the Giants who eventually broke the deadlock late in the second at 37:58.
Jeffrey Szwez took the puck from the back boards to the slot and backhanded a shot through traffic, hard and low into the corner of the net.
When the home team killed a full two minutes of a two-man advantage for the Stars in the final period it looked like the turning point in the game but the Stars netted two goals in a minute shortly afterwards to edge in front.
The first was a lucky break as a centering pass was sticked away by Murphy, only for the puck to hit the onrushing Brock McPherson and bounce into the Giants net.
Before they had time to recover Rory Rawlyk slotted home to make it 2-1.
It remained like that until the Giants pulled Murphy for the extra skater and with 15 seconds remaining Kevin Saurette tied the game up at two apiece to send it into overtime.
The Giants had chances to claim the victory but were undone at 62:07 when Nikita Kashirsky fired home to give the Stars their first league win against the Giants this season.
“You’ve got to look at the positives and when you score with fifteen seconds left you have to be happy with the point.
“They did get a lucky goal, lets be honest about that but you can’t be too discouraged after the run we’ve been on in November and December.
“There’s been a lot of games recently but we’re very pleased to be top of the league and with the hockey we’ve been playing,” explained Adey.
“I look at this game as a point won, rather than one lost and we can now have a couple of days off to rest but we’ll be ready to play again next weekend.”