Goaltender is Star as Walser loses opener
Dundee Stars 3-0 Belfast Giants
Derrick Walser's first match in charge of the Belfast Giants ended in a 3-0 defeat to the Dundee Stars.
And unfortunately for the new player-coach it was his mishap that led to the Stars taking a first-period lead - one which they never relinquished.
With the Stars slick on the breakaway and the Giants being frustrated over and over again by a man-of-the-match performance from goaltender Vlastimil Lakosil there was no way back into the game, resulting in their quest to win the Challenge Cup suffering an early setback.
The Giants made the better start to the game with more play in the Stars zone in the early period.
They weren't able to break down a stubborn home defence and ended up on the back foot when Darryl Lloyd was sent to the penalty box with just six minutes gone.
The penalty was killed well, despite Dundee creating a couple of good chances, and the pendulum swung when the Giants went on the powerplay a couple of minutes later.
Craig Peacock threatened, but the scoreline remained blank after the two minutes elapsed.
The game lacked spark and even when Riley Wetmore tangled with Giants captain Adam Keefe it only resulted in a hooking penalty for the Dundee man.
Suddenly, the game turned with just seconds of the first period remaining - and it was Walser who contributed to his team's downfall.
The player-coach was deemed to have illegally intervened on a Stars short-handed breakaway, resulting in him being sent to the box for a high stick and a penalty shot for Dundee.
Curtis Leinweber went one-on-one with Giants goaltender Stephen Murphy and slotted the puck into the corner of the net.
Dundee were punished for having too many men on the ice early in the second period, giving the Giants four skaters against three.
The numerical advantage backfired on the Giants again though as David Turon stole the puck and fed Bobby Chaumont who skated through and beat Murphy.
The two goals in less than three minutes stunned the Giants and two and a half minutes later they were 3-0 down.
Murphy made a good save from Lou Dickenson's shot, but the defence didn't clear the puck and that allowed Leinweber to pounce and fire it straight back into the net.
Despite being three goals down the Giants were looking strong in attack.
They carved out a number of chances and put plenty of rubber on Dundee goaltender Vlastimil Lakosil, but he just refused to be beaten as the Czech repelled 14 shots in the second period.
The Giants continued to get at Lakosil in the early stages of the third period and he stayed consistent in his performance by keeping the block on the Belfast forwards.
A hooking call on Kevin Hart looked like giving the Giants a welcome powerplay midway through the third period, but Brandon Benedict was also penalised for abusing an official at the same time, making it four-on-four out in the middle.
Turon joined those two less than a minute later, giving the Giants a four-on-three advantage for a full minute, but still they weren't able to find the breakthrough.
The Giants just couldn't' turn their dominance into goals - with the third-period shot-count of 14-6 in favour of the Giants reflecting the way it had panned out.
The game was already slipping away from the Giants as time began to run out.
A last-minute powerplay, when Justin Faryna was punished for slashing, saw Murphy pulled in order to give the Giants two extra skater, but even then there was no way past Lakosil and ultimately that meant defeat.