The Stena Line Belfast Giants earned a point from their opening game of the 2017/18 season in Scotland on Saturday. An impressive display in net by Jackson Whistle could not prevent the Dundee Stars taking the 3-2 Challenge Cup Group B win after a shootout.
Goals from Shields and Connolly looked to be enough to give the visitors the win however Adam Harding’s equaliser with 26 seconds remaining forced overtime for the Stars.
Shields Nets Season Opening Goal
The Giants came flying out of the blocks and dominated the opening period in Dundee. Travis Fullerton in the Stars net was called into action multiple times to keep Belfast at bay as Darcy Murphy, Steve Saviano and Mark Garside all went close.
The visitors finally got the breakthrough they deserved at 17:36 with a nice play. Steve Saviano transitioned quickly from his own zone then fed the puck to the back post where Colin Shields arrived and fired past Fullerton.
Stars And Giants Split Middle Period
The period that followed was almost a carbon copy to the first with the Giants outshooting their hosts 16-7. However it was the Stars who got back onto level terms. Riley Stadel carried the puck into the Giants end and ripped a wrist shot into the visitors net at 25:29, assisted by Taylor Dickin.
The score remained level for just over five minutes before the Giants struck back. Matt Towe was the provider as he got the puck to Brendan Connolly who cooly stick handled around Fullerton and slotted home at 31:11.
Jackson Whistle was to thank for the Giants holding onto a lead going into the final period with the netminder helping kill off a 5-on-3 Stars powerplay at the end of the second.
Fight Back From The Hosts
With only one goal separating the two sides, the final period was a tense affair. Clear cut chances were few and far between however it was 20 minutes of end-to-end Challenge Cup action.
With only 26 seconds remaining on the clock Adam Harding scored for the home side, assisted by Emerson Hrynyk, to take the game into overtime. It was a heartbreaking goal for the Giants to concede after dominating long periods of the play in Dundee.
Overtime And Shootout In Dundee
Both netminders, Fullerton and Whistle, were forced into decisive saves during the five minutes of 3-on-3 overtime. With no winner to be found – the game moved into a shootout.
Yet again it was Fullerton who kept the Giants at bay as Connolly, Sylvestre and Shields were all denied by the Stars netminder. Gould was shutout by Whistle at the other end however Stadel’s shootout goal was enough to give Dundee the win.
The Stena Line Belfast Giants return home to face the Guildford Flames in the Elite League on Saturday 9th September. This will be the Giants ‘Opening Night’ – their first home game of the 2017/18 season at The SSE Arena, Belfast.
Tickets for the game are now on sale and available online at ticketmaster.ie as well as from the Arena Box Office either in person or by calling (028) 9073 9074.
Dundee Stars 3-2 Stena Line Belfast Giants (After Penalty Shots)
Man of the Match:
#1 Jackson Whistle
Photos: Derek Black