Whistle saves seal shootout win for Giants over Clan

Belfast Giants netminder Jackson Whistle. Credit: Presseye
  • Braehead Clan 2 – 3 Belfast Giants (after OT & penalties)

Jackson Whistle had a tough test in his first game for the Belfast Giants, but his saves in a penalty shootout earned his team the win over Braehead Clan on Sunday.

The Giants were coming off the back of an overtime defeat at the hands of the Dundee Stars on Saturday, when they took to the ice in Glasgow to face the Clan.

Whistle made his first start, giving veteran first-choice netminder Stephen Murphy a night off.

Defenceman Jim Vandermeer was also back from injury, while Matt Nickerson didn’t ice.

In the opening period, it was the Giants who went ahead when Chris Higgins netted the opening goal of the game from assists by Michael Forney and Jeff Mason.

But, less than a minute later, the Clan brought it back to all square with an Alex Leavitt goal.

With just over five minutes to go before the first break, Blair Riley put the visiting Belfast side back in front with a goal from an assist by Vandermeer.

Leavitt was back with another equaliser in the second period though, and ultimately the sides would battle through the rest of the game locked at 2-2.

With another overtime stint on the cards for the Giants, they actually ended up playing four-on-three for a time after the Clan’s Matt Beca took a penalty for hooking.

Then it was the Clan’s turn to have the advantage when Chris Higgins was penalised for high sticking.

However, neither side could get the winning goal and proceedings moved to a penalty shootout.

James Desmarais was up first for the Giants against Michael Zajkowski in the Braehead net and he found his target.

Beca went first for the Clan, but his effort was saved by 21-year-old Whistle.

When David Rutherford then buried his shot for the Giants, Whistle saving Daniel Ahsberg's effort for the Clan gave the Belfast side the 3-2 win.

Taking the extra point out of the game keeps the Giants top of the Challenge Cup Group A table.

Whistle had previously only featured on the bench for the Giants in their last couple of games.

He had been working his way back to a full recovery after double hip surgery.

Giants coach Derrick Walser had been keen to give him a start though and his Man of the Match performance meant he certainly didn't disappoint.

The Belfast Giants are next in action when they face the Cardiff Devils in a league game at the SSE Arena at 7pm on Saturday, with their fundraising efforts for former Devil Scott Matzka continuing.