Colin Shields strikes late to salvage point for Giants
Belfast Giants 3-3 Edinburgh Caps
Colin Shields added to his record tally of goals for the Belfast Giants to rescue a point from their Challenge Cup battle with the Edinburgh Capitals.
Just when it looked like the Caps were going to gain revenge after losing the corresponding fixture a fortnight ago, Shields levelled with eight minutes to go.
The crowd was somewhat bemused when the teams left the ice after 60 minutes, but unlike in the Elite League, there is no overtime after a draw in the Challenge Cup.
Shields' goal capped an enthralling 3-3 thriller that had almost everything.
And if that is anything to go by then the second instalment of the Odyssey Arena double-header should be worth watching.
The 3,000 crowd that turned up last night witnessed an extremely tight first period, in which neither goaltender was giving anything away, despite coming under pressure.
Caps' Carsen Chubak - who joined the Giants last October when Stephen Murphy went down with an injury that kept him out for almost the entire season - stopped everything that his former team-mates threw at him, until he was finally beaten three minutes before the first break.
Craig Peacock did the work himself and gave Chubak no chance with a fantastic shot.
Going a goal down didn't adversely affect the Capitals. In fact, if anything it seemed to bring more out of them.
And within three minutes they were level.
It had looked as if the Giants would end the first period in front, but Edinburgh kept pushing right to the hooter and they got their reward with only six seconds remaining on the clock.
Capitals captain Everett Sheen combined with David Rutherford to create the chance and Craig McCallum provided the finish.
The Giants threw everything into the second period, but their only reward came on a powerplay six minutes in.
McCallum was sent to the box for a slashing offence at 25:34 and exactly a minute later Mike Wilson and Darryl Lloyd worked the opening for Mitch Ganzak to score his first goal since joining the Giants in the summer.
Edinburgh responded and just eight minutes later they were in the lead - thanks to two goals inside three minutes.
Both goals came on powerplays, the first when Matt Nickerson was punished for hooking. Paul Zanette fed the puck in to Ryan Hayes, who made it 2-2 at 30.49 - just 29 seconds after Nickerson took his seat in the box.
Mark Garside was sitting out when Hayes and Nate Fleming set up Rutherford to put Edinburgh in front for the first time in the game at 33:31.
There were a couple of minor scuffles as both teams played right on the edge, but nothing for the officials to get overly concerned about.
The Giants did have a powerplay opportunity a couple of minutes after going behind, but couldn't beat Chubak.
Another, seven minutes into the third period, came and went without a goal being scored, leaving the Giants further frustrated in their battle for an equaliser.
The game-tying goal eventually came at 52:34 when Mike Forney, who the Caps defence kept quiet all night, finally broke the shackles and supplied Shields with the pass from which he scored.