Glasgow Clan 3 Belfast Giants 1
For the first time since November 28, the Belfast Giants tasted defeat in the Premier Sports Elite League as a third period comeback from the Glasgow Clan condemned them to their first loss in 12 league games at the intu Braehead Arena.
Despite being the top scorers in the league, head coach Adam Keefe’s side found offense hard to come by on the road, only able to beat Clan goaltender Shane Starrett — 29 saves — once while at the same time conceding more than twice in a league game for the first time since that last loss, a 3-2 defeat to the Dundee Stars back in November.
They had more than enough chances to put the puck in the net a few more times, but a dreadful powerplay that ran 0-for-5 and rarely tested Starrett cost them dear, while Lewis Hook hitting the post while the scoreline was 1-0 could have meant the game played out differently in the latter stages.
Captain David Goodwin, back after missing the Giants’ last two games through injury, had given them the lead just 7:48 in when he poked in at the back door after Ben Lake’s pass across the crease but, after Hook hit the post off Jordan Boucher’s excellent set-up work in the second, there was little to celebrate.
When they ran into penalty trouble early in the third — Mark Garside (hooking) and JJ Piccinich (tripping) sitting at the same time — Nolan LaPorte tied things up 5:19 in when he finished a rebound on the 5-on-3 powerplay, with Mathieu Roy getting the game-winner with 8:20 when he finished a breakaway.
It was the first time in five games that the Giants had conceded more than once in a period, and netminder Jackson Whistle couldn’t be held accountable as he turned away 20 of the 22 shots he faced, but at the other end he wasn’t getting the offense to back him up.
And it was Clan defenceman Cody Sol who then rounded off the scoring with 16 seconds remaining, Whistle pulled to the bench for the extra skater to try and force the issue, but the blue-liner firing the puck the length of the ice and into the empty net to seal the two points.
The defeat sees the Giants fall to 18-6-0 on the season and they missed the chance to close the gap on league leaders the Sheffield Steelers and Cardiff Devils, staying three points behind both sides having played one game more and four games less than their respective rivals, with a particularly tasty trip to the Devils up next on Saturday.
"I thought we played well but our execution wasn't there tonight. We weren't clinical on the powerplay and that's likely the difference in the game. We let them hang around at 1-0. I thought the second period was all us but we didn't extend our lead, and then giving up a 5-on-3 saw the momentum change in the third," said Keefe.