The Stena Line Belfast Giants fell to a close 3-2 defeat in Wales against the Cardiff Devils on Sunday night, with the home side’s winning goal coming in the final period of the game. The visitors put up a brave performance and, despite missing multiple players, will feel disappointed not to have come away from this game with at least a point.
The Giants started Sunday’s game on the road in Cardiff without key players in Mark McCutcheon, Mike Kompon and Stephen Murphy due to injury as well as Darryl Lloyd who was serving a one game suspension for a ‘check from behind’ – assessed after review by the Elite League Department of Player Safety following Saturday’s game in Belfast against the Devils.
With Andrew Dickson making his first start of the season in net for the Giants, a big performance was needed from the Ballymoney man and he began well – fending off two Devils powerplays in the first period as the home side set out their stall with a physical game and attempting to put as much pressure on Dickson with plenty of shots on goal. Going forward, the visitors had their own powerplay opportunities and they were unlucky not to take the lead with a goalmouth scramble in front of Ben Bowns’ net. Overall there were no clear cut chances during the opening 20 minutes with both teams tied at 0-0 going into the second period.
With just over 4 minutes gone in the second period – Kevin Westgarth dropped the gloves with Cardiff’s Tyson Marsh after a coming together of both players in the corner of the rink. Credit must go to Marsh for the challenge, however the bout was a clear win for Westgarth with the Giants newest signing landing multiple blows on the Devils player. Westgarth’s fight encouraged his teammates and soon after, he gave the visitors the lead with a nice wraparound effort, assisted by Adam Keefe at 33:31. Belfast went in search of a second goal in Cardiff – backed up by a solid showing in net by Andrew Dickson who had seen plenty of rubber so far. However, against the run of play, Matthew Myers fired the puck high and past Dickson into the top shelf of the Giants net to tie things up at 1-1 – a frustrating goal to concede with only 19 seconds of the second period remaining.
With this Erhardt Conference battle tied at 1-1, it was all to play for in the third period. And it was the Cardiff Devils who drew first blood – Joey Haddad, at 43:20, assisted by Andrew Hotham, shooting low and into the back of the net to give the Devils a lead for the first time in the game. Little over 2 minutes later, it was 3-1 – this time Doug Clarkson scored the goal, after pulling a nice move and then hammer home past Andrew Dickson at 45:29.
With the game seeming to drift away from the Giants – Davey Phillips gave the visitors hope – shooting home at 49:27 to pull his side to within one goal. However the Giants could not find a way past the Devils defence and, despite a brave effort on the night, fell to a 3-2 Elite League defeat.
Cardiff Devils 3-2 Stena Line Belfast Giants