The Stena Line Belfast Giants fell to an agonising 2-1 defeat to their French hosts, the Angers Ducs on Saturday. It was a brave performance by the team and the Elite League champions can still qualify for the Continental Cup Super Final with a win against KH Sank of Poland on Sunday and waiting on a result from Sunday’s second match between Angers and Grodno.
The game began with the Giants outnumbered – 15 skaters icing for the Belfast side due to Murphy, Garside and Saurette all missing through injury, with the hosts rolling four lines throughout the game and 20 skaters in total. After 1:51, Guillaume Lefebvre was called for tripping and little over one minute later, Cody Campbell’s breakaway gave the hosts the lead while shorthanded – a frustrating start to the game for Belfast.
The game was played at a frantic pace for the rest of the period with the Giants creating chances, Cheverie and Sawada only inches from equalising for the visitors. However, against the run of play again, the Ducs made it 2-0, Campbell getting his second of the game at 13:02 to extend the hosts’ lead.
The Giants began to get hold of the game in the second period with long periods of sustained pressure on the Ducs goal, forcing Jean-Sebastien Aubin into some impressive saves to keep the Giants at bay. Indeed the shot count showed the Giants second period dominance, outshooting Angers 15-6, however there was no way past the French defence.
A desperate Giants tried in vain to claw back a goal with Aubin in top form in the Angers net. Belfast did finally get on the scoresheet, with Kevin Westgarth firing high into the Ducs net with seconds left on the clock, however it was too late and the Angers Ducs took the win.
Angers Ducs 2-1 Stena Line Belfast Giants
AUDIO: Post-Match reaction from Steve Thornton following the Giants narrow 2-1 defeat to Angers – http://t.co/dunHTm8v6J