Belfast Telegraph

Defeat is tough for Belfast Giants boss Thornton to accept

Sheffield Steelers 3-2 Belfast Giants

By Stuart McKinley

Belfast Giants coach Steve Thornton revealed he was mad at his players after they suffered a first league defeat of the season against the Sheffield Steelers.

The men who had been on the ice were just as mad themselves after dominating the game for long periods before losing 3-2.

It was no surprise that Steelers goaltender Frank Doyle was named as man of the match after he kept out 49 of the Giants' 51 shots, but that just left Thornton even more frustrated.

"We played well and I thought we did enough to win the game and that's what makes it even more frustrating that we let two points slip," said Thornton.

"We had opportunities and it's tough to take.

"I'm kind of mad at the guys because I know how close the league title races have been before and I remember looking back and thinking if we'd have just picked up a point here or there it would have been different.

"They are mad too because they know how well they played yet they came away with nothing.

"It's one of those games that you would love to have back."

After beating the Hull Stingrays 3-2 on Saturday night, the Giants made a dream start to the clash with the Steelers, which had been moved to iceSheffield after a problem with the surface at the Sheffield Arena.

The game was just over two minutes old when Evan Cheverie and Darryl Lloyd combined in the Sheffield zone and Giants captain Adam Keefe finished off the chance.

The Steelers were quick to respond though, with the lead ultimately lasting less than three minutes.

Rod Sarich and Jonathan Phillips worked the puck for Jason Hewitt and the long-serving Steelers forward crashed home past Stephen Murphy.

There was more to come in a thrilling first period as the Steelers then turned the game on its head.

The Giants had just killed an interference penalty against Keefe when Colin Shields was sent to the box for the same offence.

They only got halfway to doing the same again when Colton Fretter and Mathieu Roy linked up and Cullen Eddy provided the finishing touch to put Sheffield into the lead at 11:22.

Doyle in the Sheffield goal was proving difficult to beat and he watched as Ray Sawada sent a shot just wide early in the second period.

He couldn't keep out Robby Sandrock's effort at 24:44 though as he rifled the puck into the net after good work from Lloyd and Mike Kompon.

Murphy then made a fine save to keep the score level.

He was beaten again though four minutes into the third period when Eddy put the Steelers in front again.

That goal came after a period of pressure from the Giants and they continued to blaze a trail towards Doyle's goal, with Jeff Mason and then Kevin Saurette being denied by fine saves.

Colin Shields was pulled down in front of goal two minutes before the end, putting the Giants on a powerplay in the closing stages. With Murphy pulled the pressure increased and Cheverie hit a post, but that was as close as they got to an equaliser.

There was positive news for Thornton though in that all of his injured players made it onto the ice, although some played more minutes than others as they work towards full fitness.

"It was good to have a full roster and get everyone one the ice," said Thornton.

"It was good to have some different line-up problems, but three or four of them were a lot less than 100 per cent.

"Having another week of practice will make a big difference to them."

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