The bumper crowd in the SSE Arena on Saturday night didn’t have to wait long for action.
With Tanner Eberle in the box for holding (2:06), JJ Piccinich took possession in the zone and waited for his shooting lane to develop, unleashing a wrist shot from the edge of the right circle at 2:56 (Assist: Griffin Reinhart). (1-0)
The Sheffield Steelers responded less than two minutes later. As Ciaran Long took a slashing penalty at 4:08, Marc-Olivier Vallerand squared the puck to John Armstrong at Tyler Beskorwany’s back door on the delayed call. (1-1)
Belfast limited the danger on their first penalty kill outing of the night, a Scott Conway hooking call at 7:39, but the Steelers edged a lead at 14:37 when Martin Latal fired backhand short side on Beskorowany. (1-2)
The Giants response at 18:55 almost took the roof off, when Mark Cooper’s shot from the point was tipped down at the crease by Ben Lake. (2-2)
John Armstrong’s cross checking penalty at 19:37 handed Belfast 1:37 on the power play to open the middle period, as tensions began to flare on the ice.
A comparatively flat second period saw Belfast pay the price for allowing the rush throughout the first ten minutes when Tanner Eberle edged Sheffield back into the lead at 26:46 (Assist: Nico Feldner, Justin Hodgman). (2-3)
The Giants offensive opportunities were limited, and they struggled to cross the blue line on a golden power play opportunity at 29:29 as Vojtek Polak sat for holding.
Cam Knight’s interference call at 37:09 underpinned a difficult period for the Giants, however the penalty kill unit stood strong in the face of a barrage of shots in the zone.
A scrappy opening ten minutes of the final period burst into life at 50:39 when Adrian Danielsen’s long stretch pass into the zone was picked up and finished blocker side by Brandon Whistle, putting significant daylight between the sides for the first time in the game. (2-4)
Belfast, still not at their best, did create a grade A chance after the drop when a squared pass into the slot was met by Scott Conway whose shot on-the-turn was swallowed up by Stojanovic.
Antonin Boruta’s boarding call behind the Steelers goal sparked a melee with Ben Lake, and the Giants promptly sent Beskorowany to the bench in favour of the extra skater for the 6 on 4 power play.
Back at full strength, the net remained empty. Despite an offensive onslaught, proceedings were iced by Robert Dowd with Sheffield’s fifth into the empty net at 59:37 (Assist: Martin Latal). (2-5)
The Belfast Giants take to the ice on Wednesday evening for the Premier Sports Elite League Challenge Cup Final versus the Cardiff Devils! Very limited tickets remain on sale HERE!