Belfast Giants 4 HSC Csikszereda 0: Doug Christiansen should have been waking up this morning with a trip to Italy next month to plan.
Instead his Continental Cup adventure is over and Christiansen and his Belfast Giants players will fly home from Germany with thoughts of what might have been running through their heads.
The Giants did their bit yesterday, beating Romanian side Csikszereda 4-0 to at least put some pressure on their tournament hosts, the Landshut Cannibals, but the damage had been done on Saturday night.
The German side beat the Giants 7-1 to all but book their place in the next stage of the competition and although the Geleen Eaters scored to bring the final game back to 3-2 with just minutes to go, the Cannibals scored again to seal their passage.
It brought a hugely disappointing end to a weekend that had started off in such fine style for the Giants, as they wiped the floor with Dutch side Geleen in the opening game, winning 11-1 and being just one goal short of a club record scoreline.
“On Friday we were excellent — you don’t score 11 goals against a team at this level without playing very well,” said Christiansen.
“We played well in our final game, but in between, when it mattered most, we were below average.
“We didn’t play anywhere near our best. I think the guys were too excited after getting off to such a good start and we gave up too many chances.
“When you go 3-0 down to any team it’s hard to claw it back and weren’t able to do it.
“When you play like we did you are going to lose. We were playing in Germany against a team that play a different style, there was a different style of refereeing and unfortunately we didn’t adapt to that quickly enough and we got punished for it.”
Knowing that they needed to win yesterday to stand any chance of winning the group the Giants came out flying and they went ahead with just 93 seconds on the clock.
Davey Phillips’ pass found Sam Roberts and fired a shot from beyond the circles into the top corner of the net.
Giants goaltender Stephen Murphy then pulled out all the stops to keep the score at 1-0, with his opposite number equally as impressive.
Strangely the Romanian side changed their goalie midway through the game and that move allowed the Giants to go on and seal victory.
The lead was doubled at 34:38 and it was the Csikszereda goaltender who was at fault.
His attempted clearance hit Noah Clarke, the puck fell to Greg Stewart in front of the empty goal and he simply couldn’t miss.
Craig Peacock scored less than two minutes later to give the Giants a comfortable advantage going into the third period.
Attacking the end where their own fans were situated the Giants laid siege on the Csikszereda goal in the final 20 minutes, but it wasn’t until 21 seconds from the end that Andrew Fournier netted the fourth