There was heartbreak for the Belfast Giants on Wednesday night in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup as they lost 5-1 to the Cardiff Devils at the SSE Arena to go out 9-6 on aggregate.
The Giants went into the game as favourites after a 5-4 win in Wales but goals from Patrick Bordeleau and Mark Louis put Cardiff ahead by the end of the opening period and stunned the local support.
Talented Louis then increased Cardiff’s lead in the second period before Chris Jones made it 4-0.
The Giants Chris Higgins then struck for the home side but Matthew Myers struck late on to seal Cardiff’s win.
The victory sets up a final against either Sheffield Steelers or the Nottingham Panthers as Cardiff remain on course for an Elite League and Challenge Cup double.
After a good start the visitors wiped out the Giants’ first-leg lead in less than six minutes with Bordeleau beating Whistle from close range.
David Rutherford hit the bar as the Giants sought to re-establish an advantage before the temperature rose in the arena as Bordeleau clashed with Belfast captain Adam Keefe after the Cardiff player’s high challenge on Jonathan Boxill.
Bordeleau was then thrown out of the game with Keefe having to miss five minutes of the match
Cardiff then grabbed a second goal through Louis with just 10 seconds left in the first period.
The Devils stepped up the pace in the second period as Louis got his second goal and Jones pounced on a parry by Jackson Whistle to make it 4-0 on the night.
The Giants gave then themselves a glimmer of hope when player-coach Derrick Walser set up Higgins to score before the end of the second period - but the Giants were out of sorts against a very good Devils outfit.
Then in the final period Myers fired to the net after Murphy had palmed away an initial shot and it was game over for the Giants.