Powerplay strike was all part of the plan: Belfast Giants hero Mike Kompon
Belfast Giants two-goal hero Mike Kompon revealed that the goal that saved his team from defeat to the Sheffield Steelers was part of a well-rehearsed routine.
The Giants had led the game 2-0 with just six minutes of the second period gone, thanks to goals from Kompon and Ray Sawada, but they were 30 seconds away from losing the game after Sheffield fought back with three goals inside just over nine minutes.
When presented with a powerplay opportunity in the final minutes, Giants coach Steve Thornton pulled goaltender Carsen Chubak to give his team a two-man advantage and the move paid off when Kompon pounced to net off an assist from Robby Sandrock to force overtime.
Kompon then came up big in the penalty shoot-out which followed, with his strike winning the game after Evan Cheverie had scored with the Giants first shot and both Sheffield shooters, Mathieu Roy and Tyler Mosienko had missed.
"The funny thing is that we practiced that on Friday," Kompon said of his crunch equalising goal.
"We were working on a few different plays and it actually worked out.
"We just want to get pucks to the net and luckily it went in and we were happy with that."
After a scoreless first period the Giants looked to be in control of the game when Kompon opened the scoring at 23:18, followed by Sawada's strike less than three minutes later.
The Giants have, however, a worrying tendency for easing off in matches this season and they were rocked when Michael Formey scored twice - the first on a powerplay - either side of a Jonathan Phillips strike, to put the Steelers 3-2 with 88 seconds of the second period to go.
Sheffield had already successfully killed two penalties in the third period before Roy was sent to the box for a tripping offence 80 seconds from the end of regulation time.
Thornton would probably have pulled Chubak anyway, but knowing that doing so would give his team an even greater numerical advantage than they had already, he made the move and reaped the benefits when Kompon's shot hit the net.
Sheffield were the team who looked most likely to win the game in the five added minutes, but Chubak was equal to everything that they threw at him.
And he proved unbeatable in the shoot-out as well, allowing Kompon to win the game.
"It was a really big win for our team," said Kompon.
"We had to fight through some adversity too, some guys got injured again and we were down, but we stuck with the plan and we're happy with the win.
"We were up 2-0 and we've got to learn to keep our foot on the gas.
"We let them back in and luckily we showed some resilience and we fought back and got the win."
Kompon showed coolness under pressure to win the game, but put it down to staying focused on the job in hand.
"You don't really think about it, you're so focused on what's going on in the ice rather than what's going on off the ice," he said.
"You just try to stay with the moves you practice on a regular basis and I'm just glad it worked out."