Belfast Giants 2 Fife Flyers 4
Fife Flyers breathed new life into their Challenge Cup campaign with a rare win in Belfast last night.
The Kirkcaldy side had only managed one previous victory in the Northern Irish capital since joining the Elite League in 2011, but a double from Brett Bulmer - including an early goal of the season contender - and another man of the match performance from netminder Shane Owen proved pivotal.
It was Giants first defeat in the Challenge Cup this season, and their second in 24 hours at the hands of Flyers following another 4-2 league win for the hosts at Fife Ice Arena the previous night.
Flyers shrugged off an opening minute interference penalty to Ricards Birzins to open the scoring with their first chance of the game, Bulmer continuing his good Saturday form by getting goal-side of his marker before finishing off Evan Bloodoff’s pass from close range on 2.48.
The visitors absorbed some Giants pressure before opening up a two-goal lead on 9.25.
Giants defence appeared to switch off as Carlo Finucci, under no pressure, showed great speed to skate behind the net, back in front, then pick his spot into the roof of the net past Stephen Murphy.
Kyle Baun pulled one back for the Giants on 11:28 after finding space at the back post, but a stunning finish from Bulmer seven minutes into period two restored Fife’s two-goal advantage.
The forward appeared to have won a powerplay for his side as he was tripped while racing through on goal, but despite sliding at speed on his stomach, the ex-NHLer managed to swing his stick, sending the puck crashing into the net past a stunned Murphy.
Giants responeded again, pulling one back through Baun’s second of the night with a close range tip-in on the half hour mark.
The home side applied relentless third period pressure in pursuit of an equaliser but Owen, as he did for long spells the previous night, kept them at bay.
With all eyes on the clock, Giants pulled Murphy for the extra skater but Fife won the puck and Paul Crowder guaranteed the win with an empty net goal at 59:49.