Challenge Cup: Giants Defeated By Cardiff

The Belfast Giants took a 1-0 defeat in the opening match of their Challenge Cup quarter-final series against the Cardiff Devils on Wednesday night, 11 December,.

Despite the local side throwing 38 shots on goal and Shane Owen stopping 22 of 23 shots, the Giants were shut out for their second game in a row.

Although there was a lot of action early on, it took quite a while for the first goal to be scored. Captain Matt Pelech dropped the gloves and had a good tilt with Cardiff's Mark Louis. Shortly after, Jordan Smotherman went on a partial break and rang a shot off the crossbar. The refs originally called it a goal, but went upstairs to video review to confirm it wasn't in.

At 14:25, right after the Giants killed off a penalty, Joey Martin walked into the zone and wired a wrist-shot over Shane Owen's glove to make the score 1-0. That would be the only goal of the period as the Giants skated into the first intermission down by one goal despite having a 12-10 lead on the shot clock.
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The score remained 1-0 after 40 minutes of play as neither team was able to put a puck in the back of the net in the second period. The story of the latter half was the Giants' struggle on special teams, as they failed to convert on three different power-play opportunities. Despite the deficit, the Giants carried a 23-18 lead in shots into the second intermission.

With the game on the line, Shane Owen made his biggest save of the night, robbing Joey Martin who was in close on a breakaway. The teams were playing at four-on-four, Martin got sprung in the offensive zone, deked out Owen, but the goalie reached his glove across the net to deny the wide-open opportunity.

Belfast would have had a couple of opportunities in the final minute, but they weren't able to get anything by goaltender Ben Bowns, as the final score ended up 1-0. The Giants threw 38 shots on Bowns, but he stood tall all game.

While this match took place at the SSE Arena in Belfast, the 2nd leg will be played out next Wednesday in Cardiff.

Belfast also go to Dundee on Friday to face the Stars and play the Glasgow Clan in Elite League Action at the SSE on Sunday.


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