Belfast Telegraph

Keefe proud of his Giants as Euro adventure ends

Lulea HF 4 Belfast Giants 0

Missing out: Giants’ Jordan Smotherman failed to score
Missing out: Giants’ Jordan Smotherman failed to score
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Belfast Giants head coach Adam Keefe praised his team's competitiveness despite ending their debut Champions League season with a 4-0 loss to Swedish side Lulea.

A powerplay double from Lulea centre Jack Connolly was the catalyst for the Giants' defeat as their winless streak on the road extended to eight games, with Keefe's men finishing bottom of Group C in the CHL with a 1-4-1 record from their six matches.

But, despite the result, Keefe was proud of his side's display, particularly in a third period where they excelled defensively - with netminder Shane Owen making 14 of his 32 saves in the third - in keeping out the Swedes as they dominated.

"It was never going to be easy playing an SHL team with the skill and speed they have. Being our third game in four nights, I was worried about how we'd turn up but I thought the guys competed really well," said Keefe.

"It's tough to get good looks on these guys because they're so defensively solid. We struggled to create but we had a couple of looks. We had a three-on-one and a two-on-one not go in for us.

"One good thing was the guys stayed very positive on the bench, kept going, kept battling for (Owen). I thought he stood tall for us, the score could have been a lot worse without him."

Connolly fired home on the powerplay at 16:12 to put the hosts ahead, with New York Rangers 2018 first round draft pick Nils Lundkvist finding Isac Brannstrom on the doorstep for the second at 23:18.

The third came at 35:35 when Connolly rifled in his second powerplay marker, with highly-rated draft prospect Noel Gunler rounding off it at 57:07.

• MANCHESTER Storm defenceman Dallas Ehrhardt will miss Saturday's game against the Giants at the SSE Arena after he was handed a two-game suspension by the Elite League's Department of Player Safety for an abuse of official violation.

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