Belfast Giants 5 Sheffield Steelers 4 (OT)
It was a night of celebration at the SSE Arena as the Belfast Giants lifted the Elite League trophy on home ice for the first time since winning it last weekend, while also raising their Challenge Cup winning banner in front of a packed SSE Arena.
In a dead-rubber tie against the Sheffield Steelers, which the Giants would win 5-4 in overtime, the atmosphere was a party one as they celebrated the achievements already banked this season.
But even though the result didn’t matter, there were still significant on-ice events as 17-year-old forward Mack Stewart scored his first professional goal in the victory, the son of Giants assistant coach Rob tipping in Mark Garside’s shot for his first in teal.
Indeed, Stewart was one of three of the Great Britain Under-18s players called on by head coach Adam Keefe alongside Kell Beattie and Carter Hamill as the Giants rested several players ahead of the Play-Offs, with the Giants’ icing their first ever all-British starting line-up of their young trio, plus Scott Conway, Mark Garside and starting netminder Jackson Whistle.
And while the game itself wasn’t quite the high-octane, exhilarating action that the fans are used to at the SSE Arena, with both sides playing to avoid injuries ahead of the Play-Offs, they were still treated to a tight affair from the league’s top two sides.
Slater Doggett had the Giants ahead at the first intermission when he finished at 18:31, but Marc-Olivier Vallerand would tie it for the visitors at 8:34 of the middle frame.
Jordan Boucher snapped home on the breakaway at 15:18 of the second, however Robert Dowd had it square at 2-2 at the second interval when he tapped in with 1:54 to the break.
Lewis Hook then finished on the powerplay 7:42 into the third with Dowd in the box, before Stewart got his first pro goal at 9:36, but two late Tanner Eberle goals at 11:36 — 5-on-3 — and 18:57 forced overtime, where Boucher was the winner 2:01 in.