Belfast Telegraph

Battle for league hots up as Giants fail to take points in visit to Cardiff

by Chris McCann

Cardiff Devils 3 Belfast Giants 0

The Belfast Giants saw their lead at the top of the Elite League cut to just a single point last night — and that will spark the real beginning of the battle for the title.

For the second time this season Doug Christiansen’s men fell to a defeat in Cardiff, with Devils’ Great Britain goaltender Stevie Lyle also shutting out his former team to claim a 3-0 win.

And that has allowed the Nottingham Panthers to move within touching distance of the summit, with a game in hand.

The Giants will be glad that they don’t have to return to the Welsh capital again this season, but there will be plenty of other crunch battles to come between now and the end of March as the fight for the Elite League crown starts to bubble up.

The Giants have been in outstanding form of late, despite a lengthy injury list which seems to have grown longer as Mark Garside sat out last night’s game, but the table hasn’t really had a true look about it.

Now that the fancied teams — Nottingham, the Sheffield Steelers, Coventry Blaze and Cardiff have almost caught up with each other in terms of games played, the race for the title will take a much clearer shape and realistically with nine points between them any of the top five teams are capable of becoming champions.

Christiansen started with Nathan Craze in goal and he was beaten by the first shot of the night as the Devils took the lead in the fourth minute of the game.

Max Birbraer and Scott Matska were involved in the move and it was Devils player-coach Gerad Adams who supplied the finishing touch.

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