The Stena Line Belfast Giants inaugural Champions Hockey League campaign ended with a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Sweden’s Luleå Hockey, the 2015 winners of the competition.
The Giants end their European campaign after posting a solid showing of four points from their group games against some of the best sides in Europe club hockey. Shane Owen started in the Belfast net, posting 32 saves, with the Giants missing Patrick Mullen.
Belfast started well against their Swedish opponents, trading blows in an entertaining opening period. Shane Owen and his Giants defence withstood some intense Luleå pressure at times and killed off a productive powerplay from the hosts midway through the period.
However the home side took advantage of the man advantage at 16:12 when Nils Lundkvist picked out Jack Connolly at the back post with the forward finding space to slot home.
Luleå doubled their lead at 23:18 with Nils Lundkvist providing another assist – this time feeding Isac Brännström who deflected the puck home from close range.
The Swedish Elite League side extended their advantage at 35:35 as Jack Connolly’s one-timer gave him and his side their second powerplay goal of the game, assisted by Arttu Ilomäki and Petter Emanuelsson.
The opening of the final period flew by as both sides went end-to-end with the first whistle not coming until the 10:49 mark.
Luleå rounded off the scoring at 57:07 when Jesper Sellgren’s pass was tipped home by Noel Gunler.