Stewart strong in Belfast victory
Brian Stewart stopped 32 of 33 shots as Genting Casino Coventry Blaze grabbed a 1-2 victory in the first game of a double-header in Belfast.
Without player/assistant coach Ashley Tait through injury, there was a debut for new Blaze forward Taylor Carnevale.
The Giants missing DJ Rutherford, James Desmarais and Captain Adam Keefe started Stephen Murphy in net with Jackson Whistle also out of the line-up.
Swedish forward Robin Bergman opened the scoring for Coventry at 4.05, skating well into the Belfast zone before letting go a shot beating Murphy top corner.
As was a feature of Coventry's game throughout, Ross Venus and Marc Cantin both blocked huge shots to maintain a 0-1 first period lead for the visitors.
Blaze again started the second period well, Jim Jorgensen picking a rebound out of mid air to make it 0-2 at 24.12. Led by a strong performance by Brian Stewart in net, Coventry weathered a couple of Belfast powerplay opportunities to take a two goal lead into the third.
Belfast got themselves on the board at 44.46 through a Colin Shields re-direct before Matt Marquardt dropped the gloves with Jim Vandermeer after a hit from behind on Jordan Pietrus. The Giants man picking up a 2+10 penalty on top of the 5 each for fighting.
With just over two minutes remaining Alex Foster missed a wide open net for Belfast leading to a nervy finish for the away side.
On the powerplay as the seconds ticked down, two subsequent penalties followed for Blaze putting them under pressure. Brian Stewart again though stood strong, gloving a massive shot out of the air on the buzzer to seal the two points in front of a jubilant travelling support.
Head Coach Danny Stewart said, "It was a gutsy win by the guys. We talked about taking this weekend a period at a time and for the most part we played well for each one. They pressured us a bit in the third but guys did what it took to see out the win. That's a good team and a tough building to win in so credit to these guys."