Belfast Giants will compete for a chance to win the Continental Cup in the final round in January, despite losing tonight at home to GKS Katkowice.
The Giants were into an early two-goal lead against the Polish playoff runners-up, thanks to Josh Roach scoring with 9:50 gone, followed by Darcy Murphy doubling the lead with 31 seconds gone in the middle period. But the Poles, who needed a win to make it to the next stage as well, fought back to the delight of their excellent travelling fans. Mokolaj Lopuski scored on the powerplay to make it 2-1 just over 11 minutes after the Giants had gone two ahead, and just under three minutes later Jesse Rohtla brought Katowice level.
When Niko Tuhkanen found the net with 4:29 gone in the third the turnaround was complete, and despite some excellent pressure and chances the Giants just couldn’t find the tying goal. Janne Laakkonen added an empty netter for the Poles to confirm their place in the finals, along with the Giants who, despite the loss, still top the group.
The venue for January’s final round will be announced by the IIHF in due course.