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Giants win shootout with Devils as fans donate teddies

The Belfast Giants beat the Cardiff Devils in their Teddy Toss game at the SSE Arena. Credit: Presseye

The Belfast Giants won out in dramatic fashion against the reigning Elite League champions Cardiff, taking victory in a penalty shootout.

The game marked the Giants' first league game at home after 16 on the road, where they put together an impressive run.

Adam Keefe's side headed into battle against the Devils having defeated them 8-1 in Cardiff last time they met.

However, the Belfast side knew they would be coming up against a Cardiff team that would give a better account of themselves.

And sure enough, Sunday's game proved to be a tough test.

The Giants were also having a Credit: Presseye

The Giants took the early lead with a first period powerplay goal from Jim Vandermeer that also served as the cue for fans to throw teddies onto the ice.

Players will later distribute the toys to children at hospitals across Northern Ireland for Christmas.

  • VIDEO: Giants star Besko, coach Adam Keefe, and Cardiff boss Andrew Lord reflect on an action-packed game

It was back to action after the players of both teams helped clear the ice though and Cardiff found an equaliser through Evan Mosey.

In the dying seconds of that opening period, Cardiff thought they had bagged a go-ahead goal, but it was waved off after review for a player in the crease.

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In the second period, Giants captain Blair Riley fired his team into the lead with a goal assisted by David Rutherford and Darcy Murphy.

Tempers also flared when the Devils' Josh Batch went toe-to-toe with Giants player Jonathan Ferland, with both players taking five-for-fighting penalties.

The Giants' Jonathan Ferland dropped the gloves with the Devils' Josh Batch. Credit: Presseye

Cardiff got an equaliser just about four minutes into the third period, courtesy of Charles Linglet - setting up a tense end to the game.

And neither team could find a way to break the deadlock, pushing the action into sudden death overtime and then to a penalty shootout.

Belfast netminder Besko denied Cardiff's Matt Pope in the penalty shootout. Credit: Presseye

Cardiff's Matt Pope stepped up against Giants netminder Tyler Beskorowany first, but missed his shot, while Ben Bowns saved Darcy Murphy's effort at the other end.

Mike Hedden also missed for Cardiff, before David Rutherford fired home to a roar from the Belfast crowd.

Besko saved Jake Morrisette's shot, before Dustin Johner missed and Besko then produced another save to deny Joey Martin.

With Blair Riley having his shot saved, the pressure was all on Cardiff and Besko again denied them, saving Charles Linglet's effort.

The Giants held out throughout overtime and a penalty shootout to take the win. Credit: Presseye

That sealed the extra point for the Giants and they remain at the top of the league table, three points ahead of second-placed Nottingham Panthers and with two games in hand.

Cardiff sit third, four points off the top of the table and with two games in hand over Belfast.

Devils head coach Andrew Lord told UTV it was a close-run game and, although he would have obviously preferred the two points, he felt his side had battled hard.

He also hailed the performance of both netminders and, although admitting that he felt the disallowed goal should have stood, added: "These things happen in hockey."

Belfast Giants netminder Tyler Beskorowany was named Man of the Match. Credit: Presseye

Speaking after the game, Belfast netminder Besko confirmed that, contrary to popular opinion, he "doesn't hate teddies" - having previously prevented the Nottingham Panthers from scoring on their Teddy Toss night.

Laughing, he added that he was relieved to see his side score early on to spark the charity donations.

Head coach Adam Keefe was also pleased to see his side get the extra point, revealing that the Giants had tried to treat the game like a road game, given their travel schedule and return home from a 3-1 win the previous night over Guildford Flames.

Belfast Giants head coach Adam Keefe was pleased to get the extra point. Credit: Presseye

Next up, the Giants take on the Dundee Stars in the second leg of their Challenge Cup quarter-final.

"It can be hard when you have an eight-goal advantage," Keefer said.

"But our focus will be on coming out and playing a professional game."

The Giants face the Stars on Tuesday night at the SSE Arena Belfast with face-off at 7pm.

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