Goals from Ciaran Long and Sean Norris helped Adam Keefe’s men battle back and they spent the majority of overtime on the penalty kill after Travis Brown was ejected late on, but it wasn’t to be for the Giants as they ended the weekend in defeat.
The Giants found themselves a goal down after the first shot of the game, Ian McNulty finding Kobe Roth on the left face-off dot for the one-time finish just 35 seconds in (1-0), but the visitors could have easily been level as they had a swathe of chances, the best two seeing Greg Printz hitting the bar on the next shift and Bobby MacIntyre driving the net but blanked by Taran Kozun.
But the Blaze found some momentum midway through the period and after Aidan Spellacy tipped a pass from David Clements wide, a goaltender interference call on Matt McLeod gave the home side the powerplay that allowed Brady Norrish to rip in a one-timer to double their lead at 14:59. (2-0)
A late powerplay for James Shearer throwing the puck over the boards from in his own zone gave the Giants a chance to pull one back before the intermission but Kozun produced the save of the period as he got his body behind a Will Cullen one-timer to keep the visitors off the board.
The Giants started the middle frame stronger, Ara Nazarian attempting a one-handed effort from the right circle before MacIntyre had a backhanded shot blocked over by Kozun and then Long struck the post from a tight angle as the visitors ramped up the pressure.
But the Blaze were still dangerous and Kim Tallberg’s backhand was well stopped by Whistle and Alessio Luciani was close to converting a rebound from in close but couldn’t quite connect, but Danny Kristo’s slashing penalty went unpunished by the Giants to give the home side another reprieve.
The goal would finally come at 31:01, though, as Long fished a puck out of his feet in the slot and rifled it home (2-1) and the Giants came close to tying it before the intermission as McLeod’s one-timer and Kohei Sato on the breakaway were both denied by Kozun, while at the other end Roth got in behind the Belfast defence but Whistle gloved it down.
The home team started the third period with a strong performance, but the Giants eventually cracked the code and found the equaliser at 49:51 as Norris was able to apply the redirect to Jeff Baum’s shot and get it past Kozun. (2-2)
Both sides had chances to win it before the final buzzer, Kozun making two excellent saves to prevent Ben Lake and Josh Roach from scoring on big chances shortly after Norris’ goal, while at the other end Tyler Kirkup shot up and over on an odd-man rush when faced by Whistle.
But a late call on Travis Brown saw the defenceman penalised with a five-minute major penalty with 24.2 seconds remaining, putting the Giants on the penalty kill for the majority of the extra period.
Coventry dominated overtime with the extra man and they came close to winning it when Tallberg hit the post on the rebound but some heroics from Whistle kept the Giants alive and took it to the shootout.
It was not to be for the visitors as Kozun would stand tall to save all three efforts from Lake, Nazarian and Daniel Tedesco, while at the other end Kristo, J.D. Dudek and McNulty all beat Whistle to ensure the extra point stayed at the SkyDome.
The Stena Line Belfast Giants will take on Coventry Blaze, this time at home in The SSE Arena, Belfast on Saturday 27 January. Get tickets HERE.