Belfast Giants suffer shootout defeat in dramatic Continental Cup decider

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Belfast Giants beaten by Arlan Kazakhstan in Continental Cup shootout

Belfast Giants' hopes of Continental Cup success were dramatically dashed as they lost a penalty shootout against Kazakhstan side Arlan Kokshetau.

Sergei Yegorov and Vadim Yerdalyev goals put Arlan 2-0 up which remained the score after the second period.

However, Chris Higgins and Dustin Johner netted in the final period to ensure over-time in Belfast.

After a goalless over-time, the decider went to sudden death before Arlan clinched their shootout triumph.

In the shootout, Tyler Beskorowany saved four of the five Arlan efforts with Yevgeny Gashnikov the only player to score past the Giants keeper.

Poloshkov did likewise for his side but Johner's successful effort, the final penalty for the Giants, sent the contest to sudden death.

David Rutherford missed and Gashnikov converted for the second time in the shootout to secure the trophy for the Kazakhstan club.

Arlan celebrate one of their early goals at the SSE Arena
Arlan took an early 2-0 lead after goals from Sergei Yegorov and Vadim Yerdalyev

Giants hopes dashed after earlier weekend wins

After successfully negotiating a qualifying group in Belfast in November, the Giants stayed on course for European glory by following Friday's 5-0 win over Belorussian side HK Gomel with Saturday's 4-2 victory over Polish team GKS Katowice.

With Arlan also having won their opening two games of the weekend, that meant a winner-take-all game in Sunday's concluding game in the tournament.

The first period saw the Giants asking all the early questions with Darcy Murphy going close in the opening moments and the home side pushing their Kazakh opponents onto the defensive for the first ten minutes.

However, Arlan held out before stunning a noisy home support at the SSE Arena as Russian defenceman Sergei Yegorov's shot from the blue line flew through a crowd of players into the net.

Before the period was finished, it was 2-0 as Yerdalyev found a way past Beskorowany.

Beskorowany keeps Belfast in the game

Belfast's netminder kept his team in the game with a number of superb second-period saves before the home side launched a dramatic fightback early in the final period.

Defenceman Josh Roach drove the net and fed Kyle Baun, whose shot was saved by Poloshkov but Higgins was able to poke the rebound home.

A little over a minute later it was all square as Johner fired home a rasper of a shot.

Both sides had to kill penalties in the closing stages of normal time before Murphy almost won it for the Giants with 15 seconds to go as Poloshkov clawed his shot out of the air as the game went to over-time.

The extra five minutes couldn't separate the sides which led to the shootout drama and ultimately, Belfast heartbreak.