Belfast Telegraph

Loss of focus costs Giants as away-day blues continue

Fife Flyers 5 Belfast Giants 2

Full flight: Belfast Giants ace Jordan Smotherman takes on Fife Flyers last night
Full flight: Belfast Giants ace Jordan Smotherman takes on Fife Flyers last night
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

A slack third period saw the Belfast Giants fall to another away defeat as the Fife Flyers struck three times in the final frame to earn a 5-2 win at the Fife Ice Arena in their Challenge Cup group game.

Having entered the third period tied, Flyers defenceman Dylan Quaile got the game winner 4:54 into the last period, with Tim Crowder adding a late double to seal the final scoreline.

However, it was another tough away game for the Giants, who are yet to win away from the SSE Arena this season and fall to 2-2-0 in the Challenge Cup and needing one win from their final two group matches to guarantee a place in the knockouts.

Having defeated the Flyers 7-2 in the SSE Arena in the first game of their home-away Cup double-header on Saturday, the Giants expected a response from their opponents and it didn't take long for it to come.

Although they started the game the brighter of the two sides, the Giants went onto the penalty kill after just 3:57 when Curtis Leonard received a 2+2 penalty for cross-checking, and it would cost them.

Having done well to kill off just over two minutes of it, Fife opened the scoring at 6:33 when defenceman Jonas Emmerdahl picked the puck up in the high slot and his shot took a deflection to beat Shane Owen glove side.

The reaction from the visitors to falling behind was perfect, however, and they thought they had equalised twice before they actually did draw level.

Patrick Mullen was the first to be denied when he deposited a rebound after the referees had blown the play dead, before Patryk Wronka had a goal washed out when he was set up beautifully by Jordan Smotherman and finished, only for the referees to determine via video review that the net had been knocked off its moorings by Fife netminder Adam Morrison.

But they wouldn't have to wait too long to equalise, Matt Pelech's leveller coming at 12:41 as the captain took the puck into the zone, around the back of the net and finished coolly on the wraparound.

Owen was given a reprieve shortly after when he misplayed a puck, only for Danick Gauthier to be denied an empty net tap-in by some excellent scramble defence from the Giants.

The defence was repaid by the forwards and it was the in-form Jean Dupuy who pulled the visitors ahead at 18:43 when he took the puck in the corner, skated in on Morrison and squeezed it in five-hole on the netminder.

Issues with the ice saw the end of the first delayed until after the intermission and once they re-emerged, the visitors' penalty troubles persisted, and when Ben Lake headed off for tripping after the Giants had already been called for too many men, Fife drew level at 33:19 on the powerplay, Kyle Just with the finish from the slot.

Lake thought he had his redemption at the end of the period when his one-timer from the right circle seemed destined for the net, only for Morrison to pull off a superb pad stop to send the sides in tied after the second.

Having missed that chance to pull ahead, Flyers defenceman Quaile made the Giants pay at 44:54 when they took the lead again, the pass coming back in front for the blue-liner and he made no mistake with the finish from the edge of the right circle over Owen's blocker side.

Leading points scorer Liam Morgan had a great chance to equalise almost immediately when a bounce down the boards saw him get a great look in the slot, only for his wrister to crack the iron and ricochet away.

Despite applying plenty of pressure on Morrison's net, the Giants couldn't force it past the goalie, and instead when a scrappy play fell to the feet of Tim Crowder at the Giants net, the forward roofed the puck to settle the tie with 3:17 remaining.

He then added an empty netter with 27.4 seconds left, a bad-tempered ending seeing Bobby Farnham ejected after squaring up to his man in the offensive zone.

The Giants are back on league duty when they welcome the Guildford Flames (2-3-0) to the SSE Arena on Friday night.

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