Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Belfast Giants suffer another final loss but Adey is proud

BELFAST GIANTS 2 SHEFFIELD STEELERS 3

No happy ending: Dejected Belfast Giants players Dustin Whitecotton and Calvin Elfring slump to their knees after their Play-off final defeat to the Sheffield Steelers

PAaul Adey refused to let the pain of Play-off final defeat overshadow the achievments of his Belfast Giants team as he declared: "We've had a great year."

A trophy treble may have eluded the champions, with a Challenge Cup final defeat to the Nottingham Panthers followed by yesterday's Play-off decider overtime loss against the Sheffield Steelers.

While Play-off success is seen as the ultimate goal for many, in reality teams have only to win four matches to lift that one, whereas over the course of a 52-game league campaign, the Giants were crowned champions when they came out on top with a 23-point cushion.

"That's two we've had now in a couple of weeks – losing the Challenge Cup final in a shoot-out and now the Play-off final in overtime – and it's very disappointing when you come that close to winning all three tophies," said Adey.

"We've still had a great year. We are league champions and we've been in two finals – that's how close we were to a Grand Slam – and we won our Conference too, which shouldn't be overlooked.

"I think overall we had eight losses in regulation time all year, but when you lose in the last game it's tough."

Already missing Craig Peacock after he was injured in the first leg of the Play-off quarter-final against Hull last weekend, the Giants lost captain Adam Keefe for the final after he had tried to battle through the pain barrier during Saturday's 1-0 semi-final win over the Fife Flyers.

Yesterday the Giants led 1-0 and 2-1 before Sheffield took the game into overtime and the only time Adey's team were behind in the game was when Drew Fata struck the winner just 94 seconds into overtime.

After a tight opening period the game came to life in the next 20 minutes.

Cody Brookwell gave the Giants the lead on a powerplay, with the bounce of the puck after it left his stick deceiving Steelers goaltender Frank Doyle.

Sheffield were level within three minutes when Phil Hill pounced to put a rebound into the net after Jonathan Phillips' shot had hit Stephen Murphy in the chest.

The momentum of the game was swaying too and fro and it was the Giants who grabbed the initiative just before the midway point of the game.

Colin Shields nicked the puck after Fata abandonded his defensive duties, to complain to the referee that he had been impeded, and the Giants record goalscorer fired past Doyle to add another to his tally.

Former Giant Chad Langlais scored off an assist from another ex-Odyssey favourite Robert Dowd with two and a half minutes of the second period to go, after the Steelers had kept the puck in the Giants end.

The sell out crowd inside Nottingham's National Ice Centre settled in for what they expected would be a lengthy overtime period, with Play-off rules allowing 20 minutes of sudden-death play in the final.

But, they didn't have to wait long for a winner.

Just over a minute and a half in, Fata made up for his earlier error by sending a sweet wrist shot over Murphy's glove hand to give his team the trophy and inflict a second successive Play-off final defeat on the Giants.

"Losing Adam Keefe and Craig Peacock hurt us," said Adey.

"Keefe is the best player in the league on the penalty kill and puts up a lot of minutes. Without him others have to play more ice time. I thought we deserved more, we played well and I thought we were the better team, but that doesn't always win you a game."

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