Belfast Telegraph

Sylvestre's last gasp strike seals stunning win for Belfast Giants

Sheffield Steelers 3 Belfast Giants 4

By Stuart McKinley

Sebastien Sylvestre's goal in the final four minutes gave the Belfast Giants a stunning victory on a night of high drama in Sheffield.

Already missing five players through injury - the injury crisis reached such a level that coach Adam Keefe kitted for the game - the depleted Giants found themselves 2-0 down with just over 17 minutes after conceding two powerplay goals.

A fantastic display of resilience and character followed as goals from Jonathan Ferland, Colin Shields and Spiro Goulakos put the Giants 3-2 in front by the early stages of the third period.

Mark Matheson did equalise for the Steelers, but the Giants claimed a deserved victory when Sylvestre hit the decisive late goal.

The one downside for the Giants is that they Goulakos is now facing a suspension after being hit with a match penalty, while the Steelers also had Zack Fitzgerald and Colton Fretter kicked out of the game.

The Giants saw off an early Sheffield powerplay after Brendan Connolly was sent to the box in the first minute, but when he returned 10 minutes later and was joined within seconds by Ryan Martinelli it put the Steelers on a five-on-three from which they opened the scoring.

There was a touch of good fortune about the goal too, with Matheson's shot being deflected past Jackson Whistle when the puck hit Mathieu Roy, taking it into the net at 12:20.

A nasty check from Goulakos landed him a lengthy stay in the penalty box, putting the Steelers on another powerplay which they took full advantage of.

Fretter saw his shot saved and John Armstrong pounced to send the puck into the net at 17:07.

The Giants made a strong start to the second period and although they weren't able to score on a five-on-three of their own that had carried over from the first period they were back in the game at 23:53.

Steve Saviano sent the puck on to captain Blair Riley, he in turn fed Ferland who sent a rocket of a shot flying into the roof of the net.

Despite recording 15 shots in the second period the Giants weren't able to find an equaliser before the break.

However, it only took them 58 seconds of the third period to level the scores.

After build-up play from Sylvestre and Connolly it was Shields who picked up a loose puck and gave Sheffield goaltender Ervins Mustukovs no chance with his shot.

Goulakos did it all himself as he broke away to put the Giants in front for the first time at 46:54, but a minute later he was out of the game after an incident with Fretter.

The Sheffield player came at Goulakos with a check from behind, with the Giants defenceman being deemed guilty of a kicking offence.

Referee Mike Hicks spoke to both benches in order to calm things down after the incident and when the action got back under way Sheffield equalised at 50:09 when Roy fed the puck to Matheson and with space to pick his spot he coolly beat Whistle.

The Giants weren't finished yet, though.

They could have settled for a point and taken their chances of getting two in overtime, or even a penalty shoot-out, but the Giants continued to push forward and when Andreas Valdix was punished for a hooking offence Riley and Darcy Murphy moved the puck through the Sheffield defence to set up Sylvestre for the winning goal.

Belfast Telegraph

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