Champions Giants Lose Final Regular Season Clash at Stars
The 2022-23 Viaplay Elite League champions - the Stena Line Belfast Giants - ended their regular season with a 9-2 loss to the Dundee Stars at the Dundee Ice Arena on Sunday evening. Head coach Adam Keefe sent a team without top scorers Scott Conway and David Goodwin, as well as defensive pair Gabe Bast and Sam Ruopp and netminder Tyler Beskorowany.
The Stars were ahead just 1:44 into the game as a nice face-off play allowed Ian Parker to pass across the face of goal for Toms Rutkis to pass into the empty net with Jackson Whistle pulled out of position. (1-0)
Both sides had chances to score in the middle of the period, Chris Lidjsman doing superbly to break up a Giants three-on-one break before the Stars defenceman nearly scored himself but Whistle denied his rebound attempt.
But the Giants would tie it up at the first intermission, Will Cullen getting them on the board at 17:21 when he was fed the puck by David Gilbert and squeezed the puck through the legs of Anton Svensson. (1-1)
Belfast got an early powerplay in the second period as Svensson was called for delay of game, but it was Dundee who did all the pressing and, after three big shorthanded chances, they finally got their goal as Elijiah Barriga snapped home Philippe Sanche's pass at 22:23. (2-1)
The Giants made a netminding change midway through the second period as Ballymoney's Andrew Dickson replaced Whistle between the pipes, but he was powerless to stop Drydn Dow skating onto a puck on the edge of the right circle and rifling home at 37:52. (3-1)
And a fourth arrived shortly before the period break as a scrappy play saw Craig Moore set up Carter Folk and the Stars centre was able to trickle the puck through the pads of Dickson and in at 39:44. (4-1)
The Belfast Giants side battled hard but could do little to stem the tide in the third period, Cole Fraser firing in a long shot from the blue-line that pinged off the frame of the goal and in at 41:55 (5-1) and then Barriga adding his second of the game at 46:18 when he found the top corner. (6-1)
Gilbert did pull one back when he was able to get the redirect in at the crease from Cullen's pass at 50:29 (6-2) but the home side kept piling on the goals as Benjamin Sokay notched a quickfire double, popping the water bottle off Folk's cross-crease pass at 50:58 (7-2) and then finishing a pass to the slot at 54:00. (8-2)
Young Scottish prospect Jonathan McBean saved the best goal for last, going between the legs on the doorstep to beat Dickson one last time at 56:46 (9-2), leaving the Giants to skate off ready to begin their preparations for the end-of-season play-offs.
The Stena Line Belfast Giants are back on home ice at The SSE Arena, Belfast next Saturday 8th April, for their home leg of the Playoffs. Tickets are on sale HERE!