RYAN FINNERTY was left frustrated as a refereeing call proved decisive with Braehead Clan going down 5-1 at home to the Belfast Giants.
With the game tied at 1-1 in front of a bumper crowd at Braehead Arena midway through the second period, the home side thought they’d taken the lead when Matt Beca turned in a clever Scott Pitt reverse pass.
It sparked wild but brief celebrations from the crowd before referee Dean Smith dismissed the goal for a strange delayed penalty call against the Giants even though Clan had remained in possession of the puck during the counter.
Within 11 seconds of Ryan Martinelli coming back on from that penalty following the infringement the Belfast man tucked the puck away into the Clan net to put the Northern Irish side 2-1 up and on course to overpower their despondent hosts.
“I thought Dean reffed a great game, it was refreshing to have him,” said Clan head coach Finnerty.
“The rule is they need to have full control [of the puck] and we felt they didn't have that. He blew it down right away/
"That was a turning point. We went on to the power play, didn't connect and they made it 2-1 and then 3-1. We then felt ourselves chasing the game."
Scot Colin Shields opened the scoring for the Giants after 15 minutes, flicking a wrister beyond Michal Zajkowski from close in thanks to a clever pass from James Desmarais.
It was a slow start from Braehead. They struggled in the opening period to get the puck forward and try to create space in the Giants third, even on the power play. However, on their third of the night just before the first break, a leveller was dug out.
Scott Aarssen was the man on the end of it from the point, rocketing a thundering slapshot high beyond Stephen Murphy from a Beca cut back with 56 seconds on the clock. A Jay Rosehill flick off the pipe seconds before the buzzer almost sending the hosts in with a shock lead.
The crucial moment came and went on 32 minutes with Martinellli pouncing two minutes later. The Giants weren’t done in the second period, though, Mark Garside’s slapshot from range flying into the net from the blue line.
Things would get worse in the final period as Clan huffed and puffed only for them to be stung twice. A slice of bad luck contributed to the concession of the fourth, a wayward Desmarais slapshot ricocheting in off Alex Foster. Steve Saviano’s effort from the crease topped off a dour night.