The Dundee Stars sealed a winless weekend for the Belfast Giants at The SSE Arena, Belfast on Sunday afternoon, surviving a late 5 on 3 comeback attempt from Adam Keefe’s men, and a very late Jordan Boucher goal, to seal a 2-3 victory.
The Giants were once again punished by the penalty box, with two of Dundee’s three goals coming on the power play.
The fireworks anticipated by many did not materialise on the opening draw, as Stars Defenceman Kyle Haas made his return from suspension for a hit on Jordan Boucher in Dundee two weeks ago.
Belfast continued the aggressive play and hard forecheck from Saturday night’s visit to Cardiff and showed good movement in the zone on their opening power play (Drydn Dow, tripping, 1:32).
Dundee capitalised on the opportunity to counter the high press early on, leading to a string of highlight reel stops from Giants goaltender Jackson Whistle; in particular a stunning double save off a Connor Sills breakaway shorthanded.
A Ben Lake hooking penalty in the Stars zone provided the visitors with the only goal of an otherwise quiet period. Stars offensive weapon Charlie Combs unleashed a roof-rocket from the left circle, beating Jackson Whistle who had been otherwise excellent at 17:33. (0-1)
Dundee’s Markus Kankaanpera headed to the box for hooking at 19:17, handing Belfast 1:17 of power play to start the middle period.
Jackson Whistle was spared by his right post 4 minutes into the second, as Gabriel Desjardins struck from the left to ring the iron, but the Giants goalie continued to deny Dundee on the rush and keep his side in the game otherwise.
Dundee made life difficult for themselves mid-period, with Charlie Combs and Markus Kankaanpera taking successive cross-checking calls (31:32 & 33:16) but a game Adam Morrison in the Stars goal denied Belfast’s power play unit.
Ciaran Long grabbed the home side’s equaliser at 36:27, getting in close on Morrison to finish a well worked play in the zone from Sam Ruopp and Kevin Raine. (1-1)
In an all too familiar scenario across the weekend, a pair of hooking calls led to Dundee’s second of the game. With Ciaran Long and Scott Conway in the box (43:29 & 43:49), Charlie Combs teed up Connor Sills to retake the lead at 44:59 after sharp movement in the Zone from the Stars. (1-2)
Drydn Dow dealt the Giants a hammer blow at 54:02, extending the Stars lead from the left off a Phillipe Sanche pass. (1-3)
Belfast were handed a lifeline in the shape of a Stars bench minor for too many men, followed by a Connor Sills double minor for accidental high sticking. The Giants rallied, throwing the kitchen sink at an impressive Adam Morrison in the Stars goal.
Jordan Boucher found a way through at 58:36 (2-3) but the comeback attempt was in vain as the clock ran out on a weekend to forget for the Belfast Giants.
The Belfast Giants take to the road in Scotland next weekend, facing the Fife Flyers and Glasgow Clan in Premier Sports EIHL action before returning home to The SSE Arena , Belfast the following week; facing the Flyers again on Saturday 11th December at 7:00pm and the Nottingham Panthers on Sunday 12th December at 4:00pm. Get your tickets NOW!
Images by William Cherry.