Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Giants feel robbed by overtime winner

By Stuart McKinley

Irate Belfast Giants coach Doug Christiansen slammed referee Andy Carson after seeing the Sheffield Steelers snatch a 2-1 victory over his team last night in highly controversial fashion.

The Giants had looked like they were about to win after leading from the 13th minute to the last only for the game to produce not one, but two major talking points right at the end.

Ashley Tait’s equaliser for the Steelers came with just 42 seconds left on the clock. And while that goal was questionable, worse was to follow.

Only 40 seconds of overtime had elapsed when Jeff Legue struck the winner, but television replays showed that the Steelers forward was clearly in an offside position when he received the puck before firing it past Stephen Murphy.

As the Sheffield players celebrated Christiansen marched across the ice to confront the match officials, with the Sky Sports pictures and match analysts backing his view of events.

“The referee and the linesman missed both calls,” said an angry Christiansen.

“The first goal was a handpass and the second was offside.

“League titles come down to single points, as has been shown by the Belfast Giants in the last two years and every point matters.

“It’s clear for everyone in the arena to see that Andy Carson and the linesman missed the two big calls in the game.”

Jeff Mason was handed a 10-minute misconduct penalty as he argued against the decision to award the first goal and after the second Aaron Clarke was hit with a match penalty and that means he will now be suspended when the Giants face the Fife Flyers this evening.

Christiansen’s rage continued as he blasted: “Everyone saw that Sheffield were on the powerplay all night and that two calls were missed.

“We had to fight adversity and we aren’t a team that will lie down.

“We got a point, but that’s not acceptable, that’s not what we came for.”

Christiansen had expected the first period to be tight, with the teams sizing each other up in only their second meeting of the season.

And that was the case until the Giants grabbed the advantage at 12:43.

Without leading marksman Benoit Doucet last season’s Elite League top scorer Jon Pelle stepped up and grabbed the goal.

It all came from Mason’s dart into Sheffield territory as he skated through the zones. He passed

the puck to Craig Peacock on the left and as Pelle skated forward he took control of a pass before sending an unstoppable shot into the roof of John DeCaro’s net.

Colt King missed a great chance to equalise for Sheffield five minutes later as the Giants were on the penalty kill, but he fluffed his shot right in front of Stephen Murphy’s crease.

After that Murphy produced a starring display to keep out everything that Sheffield threw at him.

The pressure really started to build in the closing minutes with the Steelers’ unbeaten home record about to break. That was until 42 seconds from the end when player-coach Ryan Finnerty picked up the puck behind the net and passed to Tait who netted from close range — although the Giants claimed he’d used a hand to put it into the net.

Sheffield carried the momentum into overtime and after Murphy had already kept out one shot they broke up a Giants attack and moved forward themselves. Mike Ramsey passed to Legue and he skated on to beat Murphy from close range.

He was, however, clearly inside the Giants zone before the puck crossed the blueline, but Carson allowed the goal to stand and that gave Sheffield the extra point.

“We will use this to rally our team for the fight ahead,” said Christiansen.

“We came here with six thousand people against us and showed our character and we have an opportunity to rally and take our frustrations out on someone.”

Belfast Telegraph

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