The Belfast Giants fell a point behind Coventry Blaze at the top of the Elite League last night after a penalty shoot-out defeat at the hands of the Hull Stingrays.
Steve Thornton’s men had beaten Hull 5-2 at the Odyssey Arena on Saturday night and in the circumstances the point the Giants took from last night’s regulation time draw is one gained rather than lost.
Already playing without the injured Mark Morrison and Pierre-Luc Faubert as well as George Awada being out for the season, the Giants lost two more players in the first period after a blistering start to the game.
Sean McMorrow was put out of the game after first being sent to the penalty box for interference before being ejected for misconduct without returning to the ice.
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, ten minutes later captain Colin Shields followed him when deemed to have been guilty of a high-sticking offence.
Left without Shields — the league’s leading marksman — the Giants had only 12 skaters left to rotate for a full two periods and didn’t have enough firepower to find a winning goal.
That meant overtime and still neither side could find a way past in-form goaltenders in Hull’s Tommy Sandahl and Belfast Stephen Murphy.
With no goals in the added time five minutes penalties were required to decide which team would skate away with the extra point.
The Giants grabbed the initiative when Tom Walsh netted from the first shot. Hull didn’t level until the last of their three shots, meaning sudden death and when Walsh failed from his second attempt it was left to Jeff Glowa to take the win for Hull.
Earlier Glowa had been hit with the first penalty of the game with just 16 seconds played.
It didn’t adversely affect the Stingrays though as while he was sitting in the box they took the lead. Konstantin Kalmikov netted from Sylvain Cloutier’s assist.
Just 42 seconds later though the Giants were level.
Walsh and Shields combined and it was left to Benedict to finish off the move.
As if to show that they didn’t need to have a man off the ice to score, Hull then netted on their next powerplay to regain the lead.
McMorrow’s penalty for interference was about to elapse when Kalmikov and former Giant Curtis Huppe linked up and slotted the puck to Glowa to find the net on the powerplay.
That infuriated McMorrow and after coming out of the box and then throwing his helmet at the glass he was told to head to the dressing room and played no further part.
Shields dismissal was less clear cut. Cloutier did leave the ice with a bloody nose, but any contact seemed purely accidental.
Benedict netted on the powerplay early in the second period, but couldn’t find a winner.