The Stena Line Belfast Giants fell to 6-3 defeat against the Nottingham Panthers in their opening league game of the season. Following four wins from their four Challenge Cup games, Wednesday’s defeat was the Giants first of the 2018/19 season.
Four goals in the second period did the damage for the Panthers as they kept hold of first place in the standings. With Tyler Beskorowany picking up a knock in Saturday’s win over the Glasgow Clan, Stephen Murphy started in the Giants net and Hunter Bishop made his Belfast debut.
Netminders On Show In Opening Period
The opening period of the Giants Elite League season was a pretty even affair as these title rivals attempted to assert themselves on the game. The hosts arguably had the edge though both Michael Garnett and Stephen Murphy in net ensured the two teams would enter the first intermission at 0-0.
Panthers Dominate Middle Period
Following 20 minutes of scoreless action – it took only 42 seconds of the middle period before the deadlock was broken. Tyler Biggs fed the puck to Luke Pither who stepped inside and unleashed a ferocious wrist shot into the Giants net to give the Panthers the lead.
Little over the halfway mark in the game and the visitors had doubled their lead. This time Lukr Pither was the provider as his pass from behind the net found Kevin Anderson who cooly slotted home at 31:29.
Jaynen Rissling extended the Panthers lead at 33:47, converting his one-on-one chance, assisted by Justin Kovacs.
Nottingham completed the middle period scoring at 37:37 when Ollie Betteridge scored his side’s fourth goal, assisted by Mark Hurtubise and Robert Lachowicz.
Giants Late Fightback Not Enough
Justin Kovacs extended the Nottingham lead at 45:26 – squeezing the puck past Murphy, assisted by Alex Guptill.
Josh Roach pulled one back for the hosts with 12:04 remaining when his slapshot ripped into the Nottingham net on the powerplay, assisted by Kyle Baun and Hunter Bishop.
Dustin Johner netted a second goal and a second powerplay strike of the game for the Giants with 7:25 left on the clock, assisted by Kyle Baun.
Luke Pither made it 6-2 with his second of the game with an unassisted goal at 38:17. Dustin Johner rounded off the scoring 14 seconds later with a fine strike.
Stena Line Belfast Giants 3-6 Nottingham Panthers
Giants Man of the Match
#83 Dustin Johner
Belfast’s next game is another Elite League clash, this time away against the Fife Flyers on Saturday. Then the Giants return home on Sunday to face the Flyers again in a Challenge Cup matchup. Tickets are available from ticketmaster.ie as well as from the Arena Box Office in person or by calling 028 9073 9074.