The Genting Casino Coventry Blaze and Belfast Giants drew 1-1 in the first-leg of the Challenge Cup Quarter-Final at Skydome Arena on Wednesday, leaving everything to play for in Belfast next Wednesday 20th December (7pm).
Swede Kim Tallberg opened the scoring of the two-legged aggregate score tie at 10.55 taking advantage of a Belfast turnover to beat Tyler Beskorowany for 1-0 before celebrating wildly in front of an enthusiastic Skydome crowd.
Coventry were forced to kill a late cross checking penalty to defenceman Carter Allen to end the first period but took a well-deserved lead to the dressing room.
Blaze used their powerplay to beat the Giants in the Elite League on Saturday, but they couldn’t convert on their first attempt of the night which came just before the mid-way point.
The man advantage came after Kohei Sato had little choice but to hook overtime hero on Saturday Alessio Luciani as the Blaze man tried to pull a similar move to his game-winner in tight on Beskorowany.
At the opposite end, Coventry goalie Taran Kozun pulled of several smart stops to keep the Giants at bay, his biggest coming at the end of the second period to deny Cameron Pound and maintain Blaze’s one goal lead.
The Blaze were awarded a second powerplay opportunity at 40.43 but as the man advantage ended, a loose puck was found my Giants’ Matthew McLeod who showed his speed to burst into the Coventry zone and fire past Kozun to make it 1-1 at 42.45.
The third period remained a cagey affair and with no further goals, the winner in Belfast will advance to the semi-finals of the competition.