Steelers Take Round One in Weekend Road Double
The Stena Line Belfast Giants were defeated 2-1 in the first game of this weekend’s road double header in South Yorkshire on Saturday evening.
The Giants, heading into the weekend without Kevin Raine, Tyler Soy and Mark Cooper took the lead through Steve Owre in the first period, before Tomas Pitule’s equaliser in the second.
Sheffield added a power play goal in the third, before Adam Keefe’s side failed to capitalise on their sole power play opportunity; a late 6 on 4 with goalie Jackson Whistle pulled.
Sheffield pressed with urgency in the opening minutes but were kept to the perimeter save for one strong poke check from goalie Jackson Whistle in-close.
A zone-to-zone stretch pass to Colby McAuley mid-period was the Giants biggest chance of the early going, but goalie Matt Greenfield looked to have got a touch as the puck sailed over.
A pair of solid saves from Whistle helped to fend off the Steelers as they surged just shy of the 15-minute mark. It was then the turn of the Giants penalty kill unit to hold the line, as Will Cullen sat for tripping at 15:10.
Cullen zipped an opportunity for Belfast just wide of goal as a cagey game resumed.
Scott Conway’s puck from behind the net found Steve Owre in space out in front of the crease at 24:50, as the Giants forward continued his hot streak with the opening goal. (0-1)
A 4-on-1 opportunity for Belfast in the Steelers third went begging, as a cross-zone pass escaped Cullen on the half hour mark.
The hosts responded quickly at the other end when Brandon McNally forced a turnover in the right-hand corner, playing a blind pass out front which was met by Tomas Pitule at 31:47. (1-1)
Giants forward Darik Angeli pulled the trigger from the top of the right circle moments later, beating Greenfield but striking the crossbar, before the sides took a pair of 2s with Belfast’s Scott Conway sitting for roughing at 34:59, and Sheffield’s Daniel Ciampini following for interference at 35:24.
The Giants looked the more likely to score early in the final period, but a combination of desperation defending by an uncharacteristically disorganised Steelers defence and the pads of Matt Greenfield kept the game locked at 1, despite Belfast’s persistence in forcing turnovers.
The deadlock was broken after Ciaran Long’s high sticking penalty at 49:39. Danny Kristo’s lateral pass to Brett Neumann was struck from the inside of the right circle to hand the Steelers their first lead of the game at 50:16. (2-1)
Steadily rising tensions led to an extended scrum deep in the Giants zone, resulting in roughing penalties for Belfast’s Colby McAuley and Sheffield’s Mason Mitchell at 51:29.
A too many men call from the referees utterly incensed Adam Keefe at 53:36. Darik Angeli was sent to serve the two minutes, leaving the visitors with just under 5 minutes at full strength in search of their equaliser.
In a dramatic finish, Steelers Captain Jonathan Phillips was handed a roughing penalty off the puck at 58:41, but the Giants could not capitalise after a time out from Adam Keefe which saw Jackson Whistle pulled in favour of the 6 on 4 power play.
The Stena Line Belfast Giants will face the Sheffield Steelers again on Sunday at 4:00pm in ViaPlay Elite League action, as their road stretch continues. The Giants are set to return home to The SSE Arena, Belfast for a home double-header vs the Manchester Storm on the 3rd and 4th December. Tickets are on sale HERE!