ICE HOCKEY CHALLENGE CUP: Penalty shoot-out success for Belfast Giants over Braehead Clan

Action from the Challenge Cup game Braehead Clan v Belfast Giants
Action from the Challenge Cup game Braehead Clan v Belfast Giants
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BRAEHEAD CLAN 3 BELFAST GIANTS 4

The Stena Line Belfast Giants took two important points from Braehead on Saturday night thanks to a hard fought 4-3 Challenge Cup win after penalty shots. Trailing 3-1 after 28:14, the visitors battled back to 3-3 to take the game into overtime and then penalty shots, where goals from Colin Shields and James Desmarais gave the Giants the win.

The Giants, missing Mike Radja through injury, knew that a win in Braehead would close the gap on the Challenge Cup Group A leaders and after 6:08, they were ahead thanks to an unassisted Matt Nickerson strike. However, less than two minutes later, the home side drew level - with Alex Leavitt scoring his seventh goal of the season, assisted by Stefan Meyer and Matt Keith at 8:20.

Into the second period and the Braehead Clan took full control of this game, scoring twice in little over three minutes to lead 3-1 and leaving the Giants with a longway back into the game. First, Thomas Nesbitt fired the Clan into the lead for the first time on Saturday at 25:09 and then Scott Pitt, at 28:14, followed up with a powerplay goal.

Following last Sunday’s comeback from 4-1 down against the Dundee Stars to win 5-4, whom the Giants clash with on Sunday, the visitors went in search of a important second goal and stop the home side’s momentum. At 31:28, the Giants pulled one back thanks to a Michael Forney powerplay effort, his ninth of the season, assisted by Kris Beech and Colin Shields as Ben Davies sat out a two minute Interference penalty.

After 36:25, Belfast had tied things up in Scotland as Captain Adam Keefe, playing his 252nd game for the organisation, scored his 50th Giants goal assisted by Derrick Walser and Johan Ejdepalm.

The score remained deadlocked at 3-3 until the end of 65 minutes as the third period and five minutes of overtime went by without another goal. It was left to a shootout and goals from both Colin Shields and James Desmarais as well as two vital saves from Stephen Murphy, ensured the Giants took both points on offer and closed their gap on the Clan in Challenge Cup Group A to three points.