Kielly made a whopping 42 saves to keep the dominant Giants off the scoresheet and earn the two points, with Cody Sol’s first period goal the difference in this Elite League clash as the Scots earned revenge for the Giants’ Boxing Day win.
Mark Cooper had the first chance of the game, lasering a shot wide from the left circle, while Daniel Tedesco almost beat Kielly with a well-worked backhand effort as the Giants completely dominated the first third of the period, although Darien Craighead nearly caught them on the breakaway at the other end.
Kohei Sato was the next to try his hand with a backhand effort after cutting through the middle of the offensive zone but it would be the Clan who would pull ahead at 10:28 as Sol’s shot from the blue-line managed to evade everyone and go all the way in. (0-1)
It could have been even worse shortly after had it not been for Jackson Whistle’s excellent glove save to rob Robert Lachowicz from close range, while Quinn Preston came close, this time on the powerplay as Gary Haden was penalised for hooking, driving through the middle but denied by the pad of Kielly, with the goaltender similarly coming up big to deny Ben Lake after a brilliant feed by Bobby MacIntyre.
Both sides had chances to find the net before the end of the period, Preston nearly feeding Matt McLeod on the rush but the puck couldn’t hit his stick, while Whistle came up with a big diving stop to deny Craighead’s dragged backhand effort.
Kielly picked up where he left off from the first period, stretching out a pad to deny Sato after a brilliant pass from Oliver Cooper and he was well-placed to make the stop from Greg Printz as he was found out front after a giveaway, although at the other end Reid Petryk smashed his shot wide working his way in one-on-one with Whistle.
Still the chances kept coming for the Giants, Preston almost setting up McLeod once again but the winger fanned on the shot, and then somehow Kielly made the save on Travis Brown’s rebound despite being stranded on the ice.
But it would remain a one-goal game headed into the second intermission and that was largely down to Jacob Friend’s excellent defensive intervention right at the death, Charlie Combs getting the breakaway but the defenceman jumping off the bench and preventing him from even getting the shot away.
A whirlwind start to the final frame saw the Giants continue to pepper Kielly with shots to no avail, while at the other end Whistle was equally as good when Michael Pelech found space in the left circle but could only find the glove of the Giants netminder, with Petryk similarly being denied on a big breakaway opportunity.
Oliver Cooper had a big chance to tie it up when a blocked shot in front landed on his stick and he tried to wrap it in past Kielly but saw it go wide of the net, and somehow the Glasgow goaltender managed to keep out a McLeod rebound as the puck dropped perfectly to his feet after a scramble around his net.
The Giants pulled Whistle with 1:46 remaining for the extra skater to try and force the equaliser, and the Clan had a huge chance to seal the deal when Ryan Harrison shot on the empty net only for him to miss with the cage gaping, but it wasn’t to matter as a Jeff Baum slapshot was gloved down by Kielly to ensure there would be no late drama.
The Stena Line Belfast Giants are back on home ice at The SSE Arena, Belfast on Saturday 30 December vs Dundee Stars, limited tickets remain and are available via Ticketmaster.ie, here.
Photos by William Cherry.