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Belfast Giants beat Cardiff Devils in Challenge Cup first leg

The Stena Line Belfast Giants came from 4-2 down to win 5-4 against the Cardiff Devils in the first Leg of the Challenge Cup Semi-Final.

Trailing by two goals after two periods of play, final period goals from Colin Shields, Brandon Benedict and Jim Vandermeer sees the Giants take a valuable lead into next Wednesday’s Second Leg in Belfast.

Jackson Whistle, starting in net for the Giants, was the busier of the two netminders during the opening period as the Devils outshot the visitors 9-6.

Layne Ulmer took advantage of a powerplay mid-way through the first period when he scored at 10:43, assisted by Andrew Hotham and Joey Martin.

Gleason Fournier doubled the lead of the home side when he fired an unstoppable wrist shot high into the Giants net at 15:25, assisted by Joey Haddad and Patrick Asselin.

The Giants showed character to respond almost immediately and cut the Devils lead in half. Colin Shields was the goalscorer on the powerplay, redirecting Derrick Walser’s pass into the net at 17:42.

Into the middle period and Guillaume Doucet restored the home side’s two goal lead at 32:17, assisted by Scott Hotham.

However once again the Giants hit back with Chris Higgins scoring a fine individual goal at 34:13 to make the score 3-2.

The Devils made it a 4-2 game right at the end of the second period when Joey Martin scored on a breakaway at 39:59.

Colin Shields scored his second of the game at 44:36 when he once again teamed up with Derrick Walser to bring the Giants back to within one goal of the Devils.

Little under two minutes later and the visitors were back on level terms when Brandon Benedict scored unassisted at 46:31.

With 56 seconds remaining in the game, Jim Vandermeer fired the puck into the Devils net with a slapshot from the blueline on the powerplay assisted by Chris Higgins and Michael Forney at 19:04.

The Giants and Devils will battle it out for a place in the Challenge Cup Final when the Semi-Final 2nd Leg takes place in Belfast on Wednesday February 8, face-off 7pm at The SSE Arena.

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