Arlan Kokshetau are the 2019 IIHF Continental Cup Champions after an astounding game at the SSE Arena over the Belfast Giants.
In a game in whcih both sides held their own over periods of the game it was the Kazakstan team who ultimately triumphed on the 6th round of penalty shots.
The Giants had the better of the opening exchanges but it was Arlan who got 2 goals, Serg Yegorov with the opener (11:51) and Vadim Yermolayev dounbled the advantage (18:08) before the period end to give them a commanding 2-0 lead arguably against the run of play.
The second period was all Arlan. Tyler Beskorowany was under extreme pressure and stood tall to deny chance after chance from the Giants opponents and the game hung on a knife edge as the Giants weathered the pressure.
The final period will be long remembered in the minds of Giants fans.
Chris Higgins lit the fire of hope in the Giants fans with his goal from the edge of the Arlan crease to make it 2-1 (47:44).
And just over 1 minute later Dustin Johner’s superb finish flew by Poloshkov in the Arlan net and brought one of the loudest roars the SSE Arena has ever heard as the Giants pulled level at 2-2 (48:56)
The Giants had to battle a long 5 on 3 penalty kill to see out regulation and OT couldnt separate the sides despite the Giants again hitting penalty trouble.
Into the emotional rollercoaster of Penalty Shots, Beskorowany and Poloshkov coming up big as the shots were missed or padded away.
Yevgeni Gasinkov was the first to hit the net and in the last shot Dustin Johner brought the game to sudden death.
Gasinkov was to be the hero and break the hearts of thousands of Giants fans.
A pulsating and emotional game of hockey, Giants taken to the wire and unfortunatly defeated.
Adam Keefes Men return to domestic action in Cardiff next week with 2 games against the reigning champions.
Words: Patrick Smyth Audio: Joel Neill/AVFTB Pics: William Cherry/PressEye