Whistle calls the tune in Belfast Giants' shoot-out victory
Braehead Clan 2 Belfast Giants 3
Jackson Whistle was the Belfast Giants' penalty shoot-out hero as he marked his debut in style.
The son of former Giants coach Dave Whistle produced two saves in the shoot-out that followed a tense 2-2 draw with Braehead Clan and with David Rutherford and James Desmarais both beating Michail Zajkowski Derrick Walser's team headed back to Belfast last night with the extra point in the bag.
The Giants led twice in a thrilling game, with Chris Higgins and Blair Riley both scoring in the first period.
Both times, however, Braehead hit back through Alex Leavitt, but other than that they couldn't find a way past the impressive Whistle, who stopped 22 shots in open play.
The 21-year-old came under pressure from the start, but he kept out efforts from Corey Cowick, Matt Beca and Callum Boyd before the Giants took the lead.
Clan had just missed a good chance when Jeff Mason and Mike Forney worked the puck up the ice and Higgins found space to be able to pull out a shot that flew past Zajkowski.
Giants captain Adam Keefe was sent to the penalty box just 11 seconds later and it was on that powerplay that Braehead levelled the scores. Cowick pushed the puck to Scott Aarssen and he put the chance on a plate for Leavitt to finish bang on the nine-minute mark.
The Giants regained the lead just less than five minutes later after a prolonged period of possession inside the Clan zone. Jim Vandermeer set up Riley and he produced a classy finish.
Twice the Giants were close to extending their lead at the start of the second period, first with a shot that clipped the pipes before Zajkowski produced a save that send the puck flying over the boards.
It was Braehead, however, who scored next to level the scores at 2-2 eight minutes into the second period. Zach Sullivan found Leavitt with a fine cross-ice pass and he fired the puck into the top right hand corner beyond the reach of Whistle.
The second half of the game was just as exciting at the first, but without a goal that would give either team the win.
That resulted in three-on-three overtime, but even when both teams were given an extra man after penalty calls they still couldn't get a winner.
Whistle made another fine save in the final seconds and that set the tone for the penalty shoot out. Desmarais stepped up and scored to get the Giants off to a great start and they were really in the driving seat when Whistle saved from Beca.
Rutherford scored the Giants' second, meaning it was make or break for Clan when Daniel Ahsberg went one-on-one with Whistle and it was the Belfast man who came out on top to seal the win - and the man of the match award as a bonus.