Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Giants suffer heaviest defeat in over a decade as Steelers romp to Sheffield success

Sheffield Steelers 8-0 Belfast Giants

By Stuart McKinley

The Belfast Giants suffered their heaviest defeat in 11 years as they were crushed by a relentless Sheffield Steelers.

The 8-0 defeat to the Steelers equalled the Giants record loss, which came against Coventry Blaze in February 2007.

As well as falling seven points behind Elite League leaders the Cardiff Devils, a nightmare evening for the Giants was compounded when Sebastien Sylvestre and Brendan Connolly were both thrown out of the game

Adam Keefe is now facing the prospect of losing both players to suspension for Wednesday night's Challenge Cup semi-final first leg away to the Nottingham Panthers.

The Giants first back-to-back defeats in over two months -they lost 4-2 to Nottingham on Saturday night - have dealt a blow to their title chances, but cane make up those seven points as they still have to face Cardiff five times between now and the end of the season.

The Giants made a dreadful start to the game, conceding two goals in the space of 26 seconds as the Steelers raced into a 2-0 lead before the five-minute mark.

By the halfway stage of the first period Sheffield were 4-0 up and well in control of the game.

It was after Sheffield went 5-0 up seven minutes into the second period that tempers boiled over, with Sylvestre thrown out for a check to the head and Spiro Goualkos earning a roughing penalty.

Connolly joined Sylvestre in the locker room seconds before the end of the second period for the same offence, with a fight between him and Jonathan Phillips ensuing. Sheffield then powered to victory with three more unanswered goals in the third period.

After seeing off an early Giants powerplay the Steelers took the lead at 4:08 when Liam Kirk finished off after being set up by Cole Shudra and Andreas Jamtin. The celebrations had barely died down when they made it 2-0 as Ben O'Connor struck at 4:34.

With confidence flowing through the team the Steelers scored a third in the space of 93 seconds when Scott Aarssen set up Levi Nelson to score at 5:41.

Even a four-minute penalty against Nelson a couple of minutes later backfired on the Giants when Jamtin stole the puck and raced away unassisted to beat Jackson Whistle at 9:29.

The was repeated on the Giants' next powerplay five minutes into the second period as the Steelers really knocked the stuffing out of them.

Jonas Westerling stopped a Giants attack and sent O'Connor away to score his second.

A minute later the bad tempered nature of previous Giants v Steelers games came to the fore again when Sylvestre's night was ended following a check to the head and Goulakos got involved in a tussle with Matt Marquardt.

Just before the end of the second period Connolly was deemed to have made a check to the head too, with Phillips reacting.

Two men down and on a penalty kill as well the Giants fell six goals behind then Marquardt struck 93 seconds into the third period. The Giants powerplay cracked again when the Steelers scored a third short-handed goal through Phillips at 14:17.

Marquardt completed the eight-goal rout in the final minute.

Belfast Telegraph

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