Dundee returned home on Sunday night for their third game of the weekend, with Saturday’s visit to the Fife Flyers sandwiched between a home and away series against Belfast. Adam Keefe’s side, meanwhile, had the benefit of a day off following their 2-0 win in front of a vocal Teal Army at The SSE Arena on Friday night.
Despite that, it was Dundee who drew first blood on the power play at the Dundee Ice Arena. With Scott Conway in the box for Tripping at 1:44, Charlie Combs beat Jackson Whistle glove-side for his first Dundee Stars goal from a precision Michael Poirier pass at 3:05. (1-0)
It was déjà vu for Belfast at 10:00 when Combs doubled his tally, and the Stars’ lead, from the right circle as Ciaran Long sat for Tripping. (Assist: Philippe Sanche, 2-0)
There were brief signs of life for Belfast in the closing stages, but penalties from Piccinich (Slashing, 11:22), Boucher (Holding the Stick, 12:36) and Ruopp (Interference, 17:50) left the visitors on the kill for just under half of the entire period.
A Kyle Haas roughing call handed the Giants their first man-advantage to open the middle period, but the Giants power play unit started slow. Jackson Whistle denied the Stars a shorthanded goal off the breakaway, with an athletic pad save before the sides returned to even strength.
Whistle was kept busy with a string of Dundee chances approaching the half hour mark, and his efforts were rewarded on the power play at 28:18 (Lahtinen, Slashing, 27:57) when David Goodwin pounced on a blocked Jordan Boucher wrist shot, roofing it past Adam Morrison. (2-1)
Sam Ruopp turned the game on its head moments later with a beautiful one timer from just inside the blue line at 36:04, spying his opportunity after the puck was fed from deep in the Dundee zone by JJ Piccinich. (2-2)
A penalty heavy game promptly resumed in the final period, with both sides exchanging power plays in the opening 10 minutes (Goodwin, Cross Checking, 43:21 & Haas, Delay of Game, 47:58).
Belfast turned the screw after the 50-minute mark, bearing down on the Dundee zone and forcing a spell of frantic defensive work from the home side. Adam Morrison received lengthy unspecified treatment in the Stars’ crease with 8:39 left in the game, handing his side respite from the onslaught.
Timi Lahtinen broke the deadlock at 57:48, when his wrist shot from the left of the blue line agonisingly tipped Jackson Whistle’s glove on its way in (Assist: Poirier, 3-2).
The Giants’ goaltender headed to the bench ahead of the final minute of play, but despite Belfast’s extra skater, Dillon Lawrence iced the game unassisted with an empty net goal at 59:01 (4-2).
The Challenge Cup group stages continue for the Belfast Giants next weekend with a visit to Kirkcaldy and the Fife Flyers on Friday 8th
October at 7:30pm, before returning home for a rematch at The SSE Arena, Belfast on Sunday 10th October at 4:00pm. Tickets are on sale NOW! Click here to secure yours.
Images by Derek Black.