The Stena Line Belfast Giants lost out to the Coventry Blaze in the second of this weekend’s double header in Belfast. Ben Lake’s powerplay goal was cancelled out by a brace from Andrew Johnston and strikes by Luke Ferrara and Matt Pohlkamp.
The Giants remain in third place with 40 points from 32 games, tied on points with the Cardiff Devils who have played two games less and five points behind the Sheffield Steelers in first place with 45 points from 33 games.
Stephen Murphy started in the Belfast net and posted 14 saves with the Giants missing Pat Mullen and Shane Owen.
The Blaze would open the scoring in Sunday’s game with a powerplay conversation a few minutes into the first period. With Matt Pelech in the penalty box, Charles Corcoran fed the puck across the ice to Luke Ferrara, who ripped a wrist shot from the middle of the face-off circle over Stephen Murphy’s shoulder. The Giants actually had a couple of short-handed chances but goaltender C.J. Motte shut the door.
A few minutes later, Coventry would extend their early lead to 2-0. Despite the Giants generating multiple chances in the offensive zone, the Blaze worked up the ice and Andrew Johnston dangled out Murphy and tucked the puck into the back of the net.
The Giants would cut the lead in half before the end of the first frame. While on the power-play, Ryan Lowney moved the puck from the point down to Ben Lake, who was waiting in the low slot. Lake grabbed the puck, spun around in front of Motte, and slid a shot past his pad and into the back of the net. The goal was Lake’s 10th in league play this season.
Tensions started to flare up after the Giants’ scored their first goal. Over by the Giants’ bench, Justin Hamonic started getting into it with Rickard Palmberg. The two skated around for a while with Hamonic looking for a scrap, and finally Ciaran Long answered the bell and dropped the gloves in a spirited tilt.
The first period would end with Coventry holding a 2-1 lead though Belfast had a heavy 14-4 lead in shots on goal.
The Blaze would regain their two-goal lead mid-way through the second period. At 32:35 with Liam Reddox in the penalty box, Coventry moved the puck around the zone quickly before Johnston wired a shot past a diving Murphy. Belfast’s goalie nearly came up with the puck in his outstretched glove but it bounced into the back of the net.
A few minutes later, Coventry would extend their lead to 4-1. After a couple minutes of on-and-off pressure in Belfast’s zone, Ross Venus fired a shot on net from just inside the point that would be deflected by Matt Pohlkamp over the shoulder of a screened Murphy.
Despite leading the Blaze in shots by a total of 30-15, the Giants carried a three-goal deficit into the second intermission.
The Giants continued to apply pressure in the final frame, but they couldn’t manage to get a puck past Motte, who slammed the door shut the rest of the way. Despite outshooting the Blaze by a hefty 44-18, the Giants would end up taking a 4-1 loss, ultimately splitting the weekend set with Coventry.
Stena Line Belfast Giants 1-4 Coventry Blaze
Player of the Game
#89 Ciaran Long (1 Fight)
Next up for the Giants is the Sheffield Steelers at home on Friday before travelling to Guildford to take on the Flames on Sunday 12th January. Tickets for Friday’s home game are available online now at ticketmaster.ie.