The Stena Line Belfast Giants fell to a penalty shootout loss in Scotland against the Dundee Stars on Sunday. Defeat in Dundee leaves the Giants fifth in the Elite League standings, seven points off top spot in the five-team race for the title. Despite coming from behind twice, the visitors were unable to find a decisive winning goal before losing out in the shootout to a John Dolan winning goal for the Stars, who picked up 4 points in this weekend following a win in Edinburgh the previous evening.
The opening period in Dundee was a tight and balanced affair with both teams matched throughout and forcing netminders Carsen Chubak and Marc Cheverie, brother of Giants player Evan, into early blocks. Referee Toby Craig awarded the hosts two powerplay opportunities in the first period and with Kevin Westgarth only just stepping back onto the ice after a slashing penalty – the Stars opened the scoring at 14:12through Chris Blight after Kevin Quick found him at the back post with a nice pass for his tenth goal of the season to give his side the lead at the end of 20 minutes.
After only 6:14 of the second period – the Giants were level, with all-time leading goal scorer Colin Shields firing past Cheverie, unassisted. A few moments of controversy near the end of the second period – with Evan Cheverie seemingly giving the visitors a 2-1 lead at 32:48 following a big hit on Stars Player/Coach Jeff Hutchins and turnover by Ray Sawada, only for the Referee to scratch off the goal and award Sawada a 5 + Game Penalty for ‘Boarding’. The Stars then scored off the resulting powerplay with John Dolan using the extra man to the hosts advantage, firing the puck past Chubak at 37:08.
However their lead did not last for long – with Kevin Westgarth scoring his 11th goal of the season on the Giants first powerplay of the game with 35 seconds to go in the second period to leave the score tied at 2-2 at the end of 40 minutes.
With the third period very balanced and tense – neither team could find a winning goal in regulation time despite the Giants outshooting the Stars 31-23 and so the game went to 4-on-4 overtime. Although, there was more controversy near the end of the game when Darryl Lloyd joined Ray Sawada in the stands when the Referee Craig ejected the forward for ‘Spearing’ at 51:23.
However, the teams remained deadlocked after 5 minutes of overtime and it was left to Sean Ringrose and John Dolan to score for the Stars in the shootout to give the home side the two points on Sunday.
Next up for the Giants is Challenge Cup action, with a trip to Cardiff on Wednesday to face the Devils in the Quarter-Final 2nd leg, trailing 4-3 from last week’s opening game. That is followed by a weekend on the road when the Giants visit Sheffield on Saturday and Scotland again on Sunday to face the Edinburgh Capitals.
Dundee Stars 3-2 Stena Line Belfast Giants – After Penalty Shots
Man of the Match: #15 Kevin Westgarth
Tonight's Elite League scores:
Coventry 2-3 Sheffield
Dundee 3-2 Belfast -PS
Fife 9-3 Edinburgh
Hull 1-4 Braehead
Nottingham 4-3 Cardiff -OT
— Belfast Giants (@BelfastGiants) January 11, 2015