Belfast Giants crash to first defeat
Sheffield Steelers 2 Belfast Giants 1: Doug Christiansen took no consolation from the fact that last night’s defeat to the Sheffield Steelers was the first time this season that his Belfast Giants team had finished a game empty handed.
The Giants had won seven of their opening nine league games before last night’s trip to Yorkshire — a record that put them on top of the Elite League table — with points taken from two shoot-out losses.
Game 10 proved to be a game too far though as the Steelers responded from going a goal down after only three minutes to score in each of the first two periods and win the game.
The Giants remain on top of the table, but they are likely to be overtaken next weekend as the league continues as normal while Christiansen and his players are in Continental Cup action in Germany.
“I genuinely dislike losing,” said Christiansen.
“Sheffield is a very difficult place to to play no matter when you go there and after losing to Fife on Saturday night they were desperate to win.
“The fact that Nottingham and ourselves are tied for first place — provided they win their game in hand — is indicative of the fact that the league is going to be very tight.
“It’s going to be a dog fight and we know that we’re going to have to win a lot of hockey games, so when you lose a tight game it’s frustrating.”
The Giants got a dream start when they scored on a powerplay just three minutes in. Steven Goertzen had been called for slashing and defencemen Will Colbert and Robby Sandrock were the creators as Craig Peacock opened the scoring.
Sheffield upped their game after falling behind and as the Giants hit penalty trouble they levelled matters at 11:28.
Just 10 seconds after the Belfast men had killed off half a minute of a five-on-three powerplay in the Steelers favour Tom Sestito struck to get his team back in the game.
Sheffield came flying out of the block at the start of the second period and their goal 19 seconds in ultimately won the game.
Sestito and Jason Hewitt combined to set up Goertzen and he fired the puck past Stephen Murphy.
Even Greg Stewart’s fight with Sestito at 37:36 failed to turn things in the Giants favour and they couldn’t turn things around in the final period despite out-shooting the Steelers by 12 shots to eight.
“We had eight penalties given against us and and that took our legs away a little,” said Christiansen.
“We had our chances to score a second goal — and they were good chances — but we just couldn’t take them.