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Belfast Giants’ indiscipline costs them dear as Dundee Stars subject them to first home defeat

Belfast Giants 2 Dundee Stars 3


Belfast Giants captain David Goodwin tries to force the puck past Dundee Stars netminder Adam Morrison (William Cherry/Presseye)

Belfast Giants captain David Goodwin tries to force the puck past Dundee Stars netminder Adam Morrison (William Cherry/Presseye)

William Cherry/Presseye

Belfast Giants captain David Goodwin tries to force the puck past Dundee Stars netminder Adam Morrison (William Cherry/Presseye)

Two powerplay goals stemming directly from penalties taken by the Belfast Giants in the offensive zone led to the Dundee Stars skating out of the SSE Arena with the 3-2 win on Sunday afternoon.

Despite putting 45 shots on Dundee netminder Adam Morrison, only Ciaran Long and Jordan Boucher – on a 6-on-3 advantage late on – could beat him, while at the other end the Stars were clinical on the special teams to inflict the Giants’ first home defeat of the season.

But while the shot count was lopsided towards the home side, in reality the scoreline could have been a lot worse against them were it not for a superb performance in goal from Jackson Whistle, who made a string of fantastic stops to keep them in it.

The special teams was where the game was lost, however. Ben Lake and Scott Conway both took costly penalties at the wrong end of the ice and Charlie Combs and Connor Sills made them pay with goals on the man advantage – the latter on a 5-on-3 – to pick up the win.

Defenceman Drydn Dow got the game-winner with 5:58 remaining to secure the two points, meaning Boucher’s late strike counted for naught as the Giants piled on the pressure to try and force overtime.

It is a dismal way for the Giants to end the weekend, no points on the board after also taking a loss in Cardiff on Saturday night, and all the optimism stemming from the double over the Manchester Storm a week prior seems to have evaporated.

Now 6-5-0 on the Elite League season and reeling from their first back-to-back losses of the campaign, as well as that first reverse on home ice, it will not be a happy locker room at the SSE Arena.

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Coming into this game the Giants’ penalty kill had only conceded eight times in their previous 17 outings, but a horror 1-for-6 weekend contributed massively to their downfall, although they had Whistle to thank that it wasn’t even worse.

Had it not been for the netminder then the Giants could have been a handful of goals down at the first intermission alone, first denying Sills on a shorthanded breakaway before making an astounding double save to deny Dillon Lawrence, then Drydn Dow on the follow-up.

While the Stars continued to fashion quality scoring chances, Belfast were testing Adam Morrison – 43 saves – at the other end but they weren’t making the visiting goalie work all that much, and when Lake took a needless hooking call in the offensive zone, the Giants were duly punished, Combs rapping the one-timer into the top corner to put the Stars up 1-0 at 17:33.

The Giants failed to capitalise on a hooking call on Markus Kankaanperä over the first intermission and, just like in the first period, if it wasn’t for Whistle then the visitors could have been out of sight.

The goaltender first did well to turn a shot from Gabriel Desjardins onto the post, then he made a big pad save to stop Philippe Sanche’s odd-man rush effort before Desjardins was once again foiled by the netminder.

Ironically, Long's leveller came after several groans of despair rang around the SSE Arena when the Giants failed to take advantage of a 5-on-3 powerplay with Combs and Kankaanperä off the ice both for cross-checking.

But the GB international finally raised the roof when he tied it up 1-1 at 16:27, Sam Ruopp spinning out of a check to send the forward into the left circle and he squeezed one through the pads of Morrison.

Where the Giants couldn’t make the most of a 5-on-3, the Stars could, and then some. With Long and Scott Conway both in the bin – both for hooking penalties – the visitors worked the two-man advantage perfectly and Combs set up Sills for 2-1 at 4:59 of the final frame.

Once again Whistle worked his magic, sprawling to deny Sebastian Bengtsson what looked to be an empty net tap-in when he picked up on a rebound, but he was powerless to stop Dow’s chance on the breakaway as he made it 3-1 at 14:02.

To their credit, the Giants threw everything they had at the Stars in the final stages to try and at least take it to overtime, and they were helped by a too many men call and a high stick from Sills on JJ Piccinich.

But even though Boucher forced one in five-hole on Morrison with 1:24 to go, it was too little, too late as the Stars held on for a big win.

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