The Belfast Giants had the upper hand in a fast-paced start, putting several dangerous pucks on Steelers goalie Matt Greenfield.
It paid off when a tight angled shot from Josh Roach on the right bounced favourably to Lewis Hook in the mid slot, sparking wild celebrations from the capacity crowd at 7:33 (1-0)
Belfast made light work of their opening penalty kill as David Gilbert sat for hooking at 14:30, but the visitors weren’t so lucky. With Jonathan Philips in the box for holding at 18:13, a shot from Gabe Bast dropped to Scott Conway at the crease to double the lead at 18:34. (2-0)
The Giants headed in at the break a man short as Will Cullen’s mistimed hit at the benches earned him a kneeing call with 4 seconds remaining.
Danny Kristo capitalised on the power play with a shot from range which beat Giants goalie Jackson Whistle unassisted at 20:50. (2-1)
Belfast responded just 40 seconds later with a beautiful play in the zone, as a drop pass from Conway to David Goodwin was returned to restore the 2-goal cushion at 21:30. (3-1)
The back-and-forward slugfest continued at 26:29 when Whistle looked for a high tip on Daniel Ciampini’s shot from range, with the puck sailing home through traffic. (3-2)
The Giants turned away a Ciaran Long hooking penalty at 37:15 to send the game into the third on a knife edge.
Ben Lake’s tripping call at 43:58 had just elapsed, and Gabe Bast’s holding call at 45:54 had just commenced with the returning Marc Olivier Vallerand tied it up in front of Whistle at 46:00. (3-3)
Daniel Ciampini’s tripping call at 49:57 sparked a frenzied phase of end to end hockey, as the barn burner between the sides continued.
There was daylight for Belfast when Ben Lake tipped down Josh Roach’s shot in spectacular fashion at 55:19. (4-3)
Any hopes of a Steelers comeback were undone by the penalty box, as Brandon Whistle (56:27) and Rob Dowd (59:17) took cross checking penalties before Scott Conway sealed the deal with his hat trick goal on the power play at 59:38. (5-3)
There were wild scenes in the closing moments as tensions spilled over in front of the benches, and Belfast’s Gabe Bast and Ben Lake squared off with Sheffield’s Brandon McNally and Matt Petgrave. Petgrave and Lake received fighting majors, along with an instigator penalty for McNally.
We take round one. Don’t miss round two on Saturday night at 7:00pm as your Stena Line Belfast Giants go again with the Sheffield Steelers. Tickets are on sale HERE!