Belfast Giants 6 Glasgow Clan 3
Glasgow Clan’s hopes of reaching their first ever Challenge Cup Final were denied as Belfast Giants took a 6-3 game result to go through 7-5 on aggregate.
It was a disappointing outcome as Pete Russell took his side for the first of three meetings against the tournament’s current holders, but it wasn’t to be in the end.
Holding a slender 2-1 lead going into this clash was always going to represent a tough start as Giants looked to get an early foothold.
However four goals lost in the first period was taking it to the extreme as Belfast quickly turned the deficit into a lead.
A pass from Chris Higgins across the crease found Jordan Smotherman on the inside right and he cracked one into the net as the home side went level on aggregate with the night’s first goal.
From there, it seemed to trigger a barrage as David Rutherford bundled in a rebound for the second after Blair Riley’s shot from the left face-off circle was saved by Joel Rumpel initially.
Number three followed quickly behind as Smotherman got his second of the night with a diagonal shot that flew into the Clan net.
The night seemed to get worse for the visitors as a pinpoint Darcy Murphy pass picked out Kyle Baun, who delivered a powerful finish.
Glasgow pulled one back before the break when Scott Pitt teed up Matt Beca on the left and he managed to get one past home goalie Tyler Beskorowany.
Adam Keefe’s men restored the three-goal aggregate lead as Riley got on the board four minutes into the second.
But it was an ex-Belfast pair who got another for Clan as Brendan Connolly found Craig Peacock who finished low past Beskorowany with a low finish to make it 5-2 on the night.
Then it got interesting. Albeit briefly.
With only two goals of a difference, Clan were by no means out of it and five minutes into the third period, they had clawed it back to a difference of one.
Travis Ehrhardt picked up a pass from Rasmus Bjerrum and seemed to have all the time in the world at the blue line to deliver a finish into the top right hand corner of the net.
However the joy was short-lived when Josh Roach’s shot on the powerplay found its way in and the hosts were 6-3 up and 7-5 ahead on aggregate.
In the end, it wasn’t to be as Belfast progressed to the Cardiff final next month. They may have won this battle, but the three-game war is still up for grabs in this mini series.