Patrick Dwyer hits a hat-trick as Belfast Giants hold on to make it a double over Sheffield Steelers
Belfast Giants 4-3 Sheffield Steelers
Patrick Dwyer followed up his game-winner in Saturday's overtime win with a hat-trick on Sunday to lead the Belfast Giants to a 4-3 victory over the Sheffield Steelers.
The winger opened the scoring before leading a third-period comeback from the hosts as they made it a four-point weekend over their bitter rivals to send them into next weekend's Continental Cup on a high.
Both netminders were in exceptional form, Giants backstop Tyler Beskorowany with 37 saves and Sheffield counterpart Matt Climie turning away 42 of the shots he faced.
Josh Roach had the first chance of the game when he was found in the left circle by Jonathan Boxill, but he fired over the cage, before Beskorowany made a good pad save from Anthony DeLuca.
The Steelers should have taken the lead shorthanded though when a turnover in Belfast's defensive zone allowed Stefan Della Rovere to pull the puck back in front for Justin Buzzeo but the winger fired wide.
And the Giants made them pay on the powerplay at 14:11, albeit with a stroke of luck involved, as Patrick Dwyer's centring pass was deflected by the skate of former Giants defenceman Ryan Martinelli and went through Climie's five-hole.
Indeed, the Sheffield netminder was busy as he needed to deny both Kyle Baun and Kendall McFaull on another powerplay, while at the other end Beskorowany did well to blank Robert Dowd and Evan McGrath in quick succession.
After the restart, Climie was again called into action saving from Dustin Johner on the doorstep, while he was less convincing blocking an effort from Curtis Leonard after the defenceman wandered into the slot.
But the best chances in the middle period came for the Steelers, and Beskorowany was needed to blank Mark Matheson on another shorthanded breakway before breaking up a Buzzeo and Della Rovere two-on-one.
Robert Dowd could have levelled things just before the second intermission when Ben O'Connor's excellent stretch pass sent through but Beskorowany saved, while Climie was equally good when Jonathan Ferland tested him on the backhand.
The Giants put themselves on the back foot, however, when Jim Vandermeer took a holding call just before the second intermission, and Evan McGrath made them pay at 41:14 when his one-timer from the right circle found the twine.
All the chances were falling the way of the visitors by this point and they were unlucky not to scramble home the puck at the crease after a Ryan Martinelli slapshot, while John Armstrong and Dowd both had good chances saved by Beskorowany.
Ironically, their go-ahead goal came when they were down a man for too many men, John Armstrong going on the breakaway and crashing a slapshot past Beskorowany for their second of the game.
But up stepped Dwyer to turn things around, the winger scoring twice in the space of 33 seconds to put the Giants back in front, the first a laser of a shot from the right circle at 53:43, the second a beautiful dangled finish on the backhand.
And the game-winner came courtesy of Darcy Murphy, the winger battling to win the puck from O'Connor on the blueline before firing a shot high over Climie's shoulder to give the hosts the crucial two-goal buffer.
Jonas Westerling made it a very nervy finish when he finished from the right circle on the powerplay with 47 seconds to go, with netminder Climie also on the bench, but the Giants held on to complete the four-point weekend over their bitter rivals.
Belfast Telegraph Digital