After a dominant start, the Giants were on the board early. Justin Hodgman’s tripping call at 6:19 was converted by Mark Cooper on the power play after just 14 seconds, when his shot from the slot found its way through traffic and past Steelers goalie Rok Stojanovic (Assist: David Goodwin, Scott Conway). (0-1)
Just over two minutes later, the Utilita Arena and the Steelers support was silenced when Scott Conway broke away up ice after a turnover, finding Giants Captain Goodwin who fed the puck to JJ Piccinich for a finish at the back door at 8:41. (0-2)
Sheffield’s woes were compounded at 17:42 when Vojtech Polak sat for tripping, but the Steelers special teams went one-for-two on the kill.
The deficit was widened at 28:00 when JJ Piccinich scored his second of the game, pouncing on a rebound from Scott Conway’s shot to put the Giants three goals to the good without reply (Second assist: David Goodwin). (0-3)
Adrian Danielsen sat for a cross check just over a minute later at 29:02, and despite the good kill the Sheffield Steelers continued to eat away at precious time with penalty box troubles.
Belfast’s first penalty came at 36:23 when Mark Cooper took a slashing call, and seconds after returning to full strength, Griffin Reinhart sat for hooking at 38:36. Crucially, the Giants weathered their short-handed minutes to see out the period.
There was a flash of life from the hosts early in the third period, as Tanner Eberle struck at 43:06 to claw a goal back (Assist: Kevin Schulze, Justin Hodgman). (1-3)
Defenceman Kevin Raine left the ice after blocking a shot amid high pressure from the Steelers in the lead up to their opening goal, and as the hosts continued to bear down Adam Keefe called a time out to allow his side a moment to regroup.
Tyler Beskorowany was his usual solid self in the dying moments, adding a clutch save with just 46 seconds remaining, and the Belfast Giants saw out the clock in front of a vocal travelling support to edge one step closer to the Premier Sports Elite League title.
The Belfast Giants will be crowned Champions if they pull off a road victory over the Sheffield Steelers on Sunday afternoon, and the three-game series concludes next Friday 15th April back at the SSE Arena in Belfast, before the Coventry Blaze visit to close the regular season on Saturday 16th. Tickets for both games are on sale HERE!