Belfast Telegraph

Giants fall short in clash with Devils

By Stuart McKinley

Steve Thornton fears that he may be without goaltender Stephen Murphy for a number of weeks - including the Continental Cup semi-final tournament in less than a fortnight's time.

The Great Britain international left the ice during the opening minute of Saturday night's 7-4 victory over the Cardiff Devils at the Odyssey Arena and remained in Belfast while the teams battled it out in last night's return game.

Back-up goaltender Andrew Dickson performed superbly in both games, but the forwards failed to take their chances last night, with Cardiff winning 3-2.

Dickson is now on stand-by to fill in again this coming weekend when the Giants face an away game in Sheffield on Saturday before a home clash with the Nottingham Panthers on Sunday, but depending on the outcome of scans on Murphy's leg this week, Thornton may be forced to make a move for a short-term replacement.

"We are still assessing Stephen Murphy's injury, he will have scans, but at this stage I would think he will at least be out of next weekend," said Thornton.

"The Continental Cup is coming up very soon and it's possible that he could miss that.

"We have to wait and see how long he will be out and then make a decision over whether we have to look to bring someone in."

The Giants were also without three forwards last night, with Mark McCutcheon and Mike Kompon injured, while Darryl Lloyd was serving a suspension after being hit with a game misconduct penalty for boarding on Saturday.

After a scoreless first period the blue touch paper was lit when the Giants new signing Kevin Westgarth clashed with Tyler Marsh four minutes into the second period, with a fight ensuing. The experienced former NHL-er got the better of the Cardiff man and that seemed to lift his team mates.

Westgarth then showed that there is more to his game than toughness though when he opened the scoring on the wraparound at 33:31 after Adam Keefe had sent the puck deep into the Cardiff zone.

The Giants were 19 seconds way from going into the second break with a 1-0 lead, but Cardiff ensured it was all to play for in the final 20 minutes when Matthew Myers beat Dickson after being set up by Josh Batch.

Cardiff came out flying at the start of the third period and with less than six minutes gone they were 3-1 up.

Just after Cardiff goaltender Ben Bowns had made a save to keep the teams level Andrew Hotham provided the pass for Joey Haddad to net at 43:20.

The Giants threw everything at Bowns, but once again after being denied by a fine save they conceded, with Doug Clarkson scoring at 45:29, with Myers the provider.

The goal that got the Giants back into the game at 49:27 was made and scored by the defence. Kevin Phillips and Robby Sandrock combined and David Phillips provided the finish.

It was then all Belfast as they pushed for an equaliser. Bowns made a series of saves, one in particular from Ray Sawada, as well as the Giants hitting the crossbar, but they couldn't find an equaliser.

"We played well and it's very frustrating to come away with nothing from the game," said Thornton.

"We had chances to get something from the game and it's disappointing that we didn't take them."

Belfast Telegraph

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