Hull Stingrays face an uphill battle to make it through to the last four of the Challenge Cup after losing the first leg of their quarter-final with Belfast Giants 3-1.
The Giants – who went into the match after a 6-1 defeat at Nottingham – broke the deadlock in the 17th minute. A loose puck was tapped home by Andrew Fournier with Ben Bowns committed to the initial shot.
Belfast enjoyed a greater share of chances and possession against subdued Hull in the second period and deservedly doubled their lead via Sam Roberts at 36.47.
Just 14 seconds before the end of the second period Noah Clarke fired high past Bowns to make it 3-0.
Some hope was offered to the home side at 46.57 when Dominic Osman’s pass found Tom Squires, who quickly created room for a shot from 10 yards out which flew past Belfast goalie Stephen Murphy.
But that was as close as Hull got, slipping to a sixth straight defeat and leaving the odds heavily stacked in Belfast’s favour when the two meet for the second leg at the Odyssey Arena on December 29 – a match which will double up as a league fixture.