The Stena Line Belfast Giants were edged out, 3-2, by the Coventry Blaze in the first of back-to-back games between these two sides this weekend. The Giants played two imports short due to one game suspensions handed to Kevin Westgarth and Mike Kompon by the Elite League’s Department of Player Safety and found the going tough against a resilient Coventry side, despite outshooting the Blaze 27-22.
Although this game saw the long-awaited return of Kevin Saurette from injury as well as the debut of Nathan Robinson as the Giants were cheered on by a few hundred loud travelling fans in the SkyDome.
Despite missing key players – the Giants took an early lead, with Mark Garside feeding Adam Keefe, who stepped inside and fired over the shoulder of Blaze netminder, Brian Stewart, and into the roof of the net at 1:52.
Although the visitors joy was short lived, with Ben Arnt scoring his 13th of the season 5 minutes later with a powerplay goal. Then, with 10 minutes gone exactly, the Blaze got the go ahead goal as defenceman James Jorgensen tipped the puck past Carsen Chubak in the Giants net.
The Giants did not lie down, and equalised things up at 12:22, as Ray Sawada fired a bullet of a shot into the top corner after a nice pass by Robby Sandrock.
Ray Sawada was sent to the penalty box by Referee Dean Smith at 27:42, with the goalscorer frustrated with the Cross-Checking call. The Blaze took full advantage of the extra man, and Cale Tanaka, at 29:21 pounced at the back post to fire in his 12th of the season – and what would turn out to be tonight’s game winning goal.
Despite outshooting the home side 12-7 in the final period – the Giants were unable to find a way past Brian Stewart, who was in fine form for the Blaze – including on the Giants only powerplay of the night midway through the third period.
Both sides meet again on Sunday, face-off 5:15pm, with both Kevin Westgarth and Mike Kompon available for selection after serving their one game bans.
Coventry Blaze 3-2 Stena Line Belfast Giants
Photos: Scott Wiggins
Game Over – the Stena Line Belfast Giants are edged out by the Coventry Blaze, 3-2.
Round #2 tomorrow at 5:15pm, LIVE again at Laverys 🙂
— Belfast Giants (@BelfastGiants) February 14, 2015