Winger Matt McLeod struck early in the third period for Adam
Keefe’s defending champions to cancel out Kim Tallberg’s first period opener
for the home side, meaning it will be a straight shoot-out in Belfast for a
place in the semi-finals next week.
Although the balance of play was even, the Blaze were the ones
having the lion’s share of the chances as Ian McNulty couldn’t manage to finish
a rebound chance on the doorstep, while Kobe Roth was denied by Tyler
Beskorowany - 26 saves - on a turnover chance from the slot.
But the warnings kept coming as Beskorowany needed to be sharp
to deny Tyler Kirkup after he was set up in left circle by Mitch Cook, however
the home side would take the lead at 10:55 as Kim Tallberg intercepted Ara
Nazarian’s cross-ice pass and snapped home the finish from the slot. (1-0)
Despite having plenty of the puck, the Giants’ only real chance
from Henrik Eriksson who hit the crossbar from the right circle as the period
wore down, while at the other end a chance for Cook saw a scramble by the
Giants net that finally saw Beskorowany freeze the puck, with the period ending
with Coventry defenceman Carter Allen taking a late cross-checking penalty.
The Blaze were able to kill off their first penalty of the
night, which carried over the first intermission, and the Giants were able to
do the same when Kohei Sato was called for hooking in a period that had a real
lack of quality scoring chances.
Roth had Coventry’s best chance when he batted a puck out of the
air and nearly beat Beskorowany in close, but the best opportunity came right
on the stroke of the buzzer as Eriksson took the puck around the net and fed
Greg Printz out in front but his shot was well saved by Taran Kozun - 31 saves.
An early penalty kill on a Daniel Tedesco cross-checking call
started the final period for the Giants and they would tie it up just as the
penalty expired, McLeod breaking away with Mark Cooper but doing it all himself
with the finish from the right circle to make it a tie game at 42:45. (1-1)
Both sides flooded players forward in a bid to try and get the
winning goal to give them an advantage heading into the second leg next week,
but both Beskorowany and Kozun proved unbeatable for the remainder of the game
meaning it will be a winner-takes-all affair at The SSE Arena, Belfast next
The Stena Line Belfast Giants will return to home ice for an Elite
League double-header with the Manchester Storm on, Friday 15 and Saturday 16
December, with the second leg of the Challenge Cup quarter-final also in
Belfast on Wednesday 20 December. Tickets are available here.