The Belfast Giants faced their first defeat as Augsburger Panther took an Overtime victory in the second game of Group C. the result leave Belfast level with Lulea and Augsburg on 4 points in Group C prior to an adventure into Europe this forthcoming week.
In a 5 goal thriller at the SSE Arena, Matt Fraser with his second goal of the game, was able to fire home the winning goal 31s into the extra session when 60 minutes couldn’t separate the sides.
The Giants fans had high expectations off the back of the remarkable physical victory over Liberec on Thursday night, and the Germans brought a closely matched game.
The visitors would open the scoring in the first 10minutes of the game, Fraser poking the puck by Shane Owen to put the giants on the back foot. Yet the Giants were getting their looks and when Andrew LeBlanc was put to the box toward the end of the 1st period for holding the stick, Jordan Smotherman stepped up to bury it and level proceedings from the slot.
However that was to be the Giants only powerplay marker despite plenty of opportunity to add to their tally. Adam Keefe will be disappointed at that fact, yet the Penalty Kill looked strong in comparison.
Into the second period and the Giants were to take the lead. A lovely move from Patrick Wronka up the left hand side witnessed the Polish international hit the brakes causing the Panther covering D man to helplessly skate by. This gave Wronka space and time to rifle the puck by Markus Keller and give the Giants a 2-1 advantage just after the half way point of the game.
Augsburg would hit back early in the 3rd period through Marco Sternheimer bringing the scores level once more.
The key moment of the final period came with just over 1 minute to go when Bobby Farnham looked to have won the game for the home side tapping a high pass from Curtis Leonard down and in by Keller for what was believed to be the 3rd and possibly decisive goal of the game.
Yet following an extensive goal review from referees Pavel Hallas and Marcus Linde it was washed out for high sticks. A tight call but one the Giants had to regroup after and go once more after the victory.
Yet it was the German side who would take 2 of the 3 points on offer with Fraser’s OT winner sending almost 1000 travelling fans into rapture. The Giants were left to rue missed chances as they prepare to fly to the Czech Republic to resume pleasantries with Patrik Agusta and his Liberec side, who are yet to register any points in Group C.
Belfast, however, sit on 4 points, level with Lulea and Augsberg and are unbeaten in 60 minutes since the start of Pre-Season.
Adam Keefe will no doubt be pleased that’s his newly built side have been holding their own against the best Europe has had to offer and fans will travel in numbers as the team head to Liberec and Augsburg in the next week.
PODCAST: Three, Four, Five, Six – The Lads preview the CHL openers with Adam Keefe, Chat to EIHL media manager Luke Fisher, and we hear from the new Captain, Matt Pelech on his approach to pre-season.
A View From The Bridge Podcast, Official Podcast of the Belfast Giants, part of Kingdom Of The Giants.New Editions are online EVERY WEDNESDAY through the season, at 8am from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, The Cool FM App and all other good podcast providers.
Words: Patrick Smyth Audio: A View From The Bridge Video: CHL
Pictures: William Cherry / PressEye