Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Jeffrey Szwez inspires Belfast Giants to victory

Jeffrey Szwez scored the opening goal of the game before playing a part in two more as the Giants stunned the Steelers to cement their place at the top of the Elite League
Jeffrey Szwez scored the opening goal of the game before playing a part in two more as the Giants stunned the Steelers to cement their place at the top of the Elite League

Paul Adey claimed that the pressure is now on the Belfast Giants' title rivals after they stunned the Sheffield Steelers by winning 4-2 in Yorkshire.

The victory maintained the Giants four-point lead over the Dundee Stars at the top of the Elite League table but, more importantly, they are now seven points ahead of the Steelers.

"It's a big two points for us," said Adey.

"It keeps the pressure on the other teams because if we keep winning then they have to keep winning too."

And after securing a 2-0 win over the Hull Stingrays on Saturday night the Giants have started their month-long run of away games in perfect fashion.

"It's very positive and we played well in all three periods in Hull and for the first two in Sheffield," added Adey.

"We are a good team on the road and it doesn't matter to us whether we are home or away."

The Giants raced into a 2-0 lead with just over five minutes on the clock, Jeffrey Szwez and Robby Sandrock getting the goals.

Sheffield were back in the game quickly thanks to Steven Goertzen, but once Colin Shields made it 3-1 after less than 15 minutes the Giants weren't in the mood to let the two points slip away.

Dustin Whitecotton's goal early in the third period all but sealed the win for the Giants and although Jeff Legue got one back and the Steelers goaltender Frank Doyle was pulled in the final couple of minutes, they didn't have enough in the tank to take anything from the game.

Darryl Lloyd had an early chance for the Giants, but his effort was well saved by Doyle.

With Legue off the ice for hooking, the Giants took the lead on a powerplay at 3:43 as Szwez collected Whitecotton's pass and netted his 11th goal of the season.

Jason Hewitt was in the box when the deficit doubled just 90 seconds later when Sandrock fired home after receiving a pass from Kevin Saurette.

The Steelers were shook into action and when Szwez was punished for holding and they made full use of their numerical advantage as former Giant Robert Dowd set-up Goertzen to score.

Evan Cheverie went close for Giants after a great pass from Craig Peacock but it became 3-1 at 14:19 when Szwez did well to carve out an opening for Shields and he produced a great finish to beat Doyle.

The Steelers goaltender then made a fine save to deny Whitecotton with just a couple of minutes of the first period remaining.

A penalty against Garside put Sheffield on a powerplay and that became a five-on-three when the Giants were punished for having too many men on the ice – that carried over into the second period, but the Steelers couldn't take advantage.

Both Szwez and Cheverie tested Doyle in the second period, but there was nowhere near the same amount of action in front of goal as there had been in the first and the rival goaltenders dealt with whatever was thrown at them.

The Giants gave Sheffield a mountain to climb when Whitecotton took a pass from Szwez and scored his team's fourth of the game at 44:04.

Again, Sheffield produced a reaction to a Giants goal when they cut the lead to 4-2 when Legue scored at 47:23 while Lloyd sat his second penalty in quick succession – and his third of the night.

Giants goaltender Stephen Murphy then made a key save to keep the deficit at two goals.

Sheffield took Doyle out of his goal at 58:14 to give them an extra skater and although they had opportunities to score they were unable to set up a thrilling finish as the Giants held on to win.

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