Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Ice Hockey: Rules tied in Notts

All the new rules in the Elite League came into play in the first game of the season last night.

BEFLAST GIANTS 4

NOTTINGHAM PANTHERS 3 (AFTER PENALTIES)

All the new rules in the Elite League came into play in the first game of the season last night.

The no tolerance approach to clutching and grabbing was implemented to its fullest degree with referee Michael Hicks calling a whopping 36 minor penalties and the return of the penalty shoot-out - that means no ties this season - provided an exciting end to the game and an opening win for the Belfast Giants in the defence of their championship.

New signing Mark Dutiaume scored the only penalty while goalie Mike Minard stopped all three of the Nottingham Panthers efforts.

Jason Ruff marked his return to the Giants line-up with two first period goals, the first a five-on-three powerplay effort and his second was a shorthanded strike that bookmarked his assist on George Awada's goal, the second of the game for the Giants after Corey Neilson had equalised for the visitors on a two man advantage of their own.

The only goal of the second period was a David Clarke powerplay strike that came on the fifth consecutive penalty call on the Giants in the period.

The equaliser came with 2:46 to go from Jan Krajcek, another goal with a two man advantage.

Overtime couldn't separate the sides and the Giants claimed the second point with the shoot-out win.

Not surprisingly the new rules were the hot topic for debate afterwards with Mr Hicks suffering from repetitive strain injury after raising his right arm 36 times.

Giants coach Ed Courtenay wasn't unhappy but insists there needs to be clarification.

"We were only briefed about the rules this morning.

"It's going to be an adjustment period for the players and the referees.

"Hicks called exactly what he said he would and as long as it's the same for both sides then that's fine. There needs to be a happy medium," said Courtenay.

"I understand the stick infractions like hooking and holding but the hitting needs to be clarified.

"I'm not annoyed at the referee but I think we need to know exactly what us going to be called as far as the physical side of the game is concerned.

"You can't take that out of the game," he added.

Man of the match was Minard who made 43 saves and was superb throughout.

The Giants take on the Coventry Blaze tonight.

There's no Theo Fleury this year but Courtenay still expects a hot reception.

"I'll be wearing a motorcycle helmet on the bench," he joked."We just want to go in there and play a solid road game and get out."

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