Pressure mounting on Belfast Giants as they lose again

Evan Cheverie of the Belfast Giants in action with David Brown of the Hull Stingrays
Evan Cheverie of the Belfast Giants in action with David Brown of the Hull Stingrays

In what might turn out to be a pivotal weekend for the Elite League title aspirations of the Belfast Giants, they slumped to a shoot-out loss at the Dundee Stars last night after the game was tied 2-2 following overtime.

Coupled with the 4-2 defeat at home against the Hull Stingrays on Saturday night and Steve Thornton’s side now lie in third place, seven points behind the Braehead Clan.

And in a race as tight as this season’s, no team can afford to take just one point from a possible four against two sides in the bottom half of the table.

And there may be further issues for the Giants to deal with ahead of Wednesday night’s Challenge Cup quarter-final second leg at the Cardiff Devils, in which they go into trailing by a goal.

Both Ray Sawada and Darryl Lloyd were thrown out of the game for boarding and spearing major penalties that will be reviewed by the league and could lead to suspensions.

Only a week ago the Giants had just completed a 7-1 holiday schedule that got them back in the championship race but now they’ve lost that momentum and have little room for manoeuvre throughout the rest of the season.

Chris Blight gave the Stars a first period lead, a goal that was cancelled out by Colin Shields at 26:16.

Minutes later it looked like Evan Cheverie had give the Giants the lead.

The goal was given, and then ruled out by referee Toby Craig who then assessed a 5+game penalty on Sawada for boarding in the build-up, incensing the Giants bench.

Insult was added to injury when John Dolan put Dundee ahead on the resulting powerplay.

However, just before the end of the period Kevin Westgarth equalized on the only man advantage the Giants would enjoy in the entire game.

In the final 20 minutes Lloyd was given a major penalty for spearing by Craig that the Giants killed, the Stars going 1-for-8 on the powerplay, and there was no further scoring.

Mike Kompon gave the Giants the lead in the shoot-out but Robby Sandrock and Colin Shields missed while Sean Ringrose and John Dolan scored to round off a miserable weekend for the Giants.

In Saturday night’s game goals from Jeff Mason and Cheverie gave the Giants a 2-0 lead after the first period against the Stingrays.

But a lacklustre and mediocre final 40 minutes from the home side allowed Hull to score four unanswered goals and skate away with a deserved victory.