Goulakos and Fretter reignite old rivalry as Giants lose feisty clash
Belfast Giants 2 Sheffield Steelers 3
The aftermath of another Belfast Giants v Sheffield Steelers battle is set to run and run, after Giants defenceman Spiro Goulakos was again involved in a number of talking points during an ill-tempered contest.
The Steelers won 3-2 to take their winning streak to seven games and jump above the Giants into second place in the table, but that was only half the story of a game that boiled over several times.
Goulakos clashed with old foe Colton Fretter within seconds of last night's game at the SSE Arena as he looked to settle a score carried over from a previous meeting in October, when Fretter was subsequently banned for six matches and Goulakos was left with a concussion with the fall-out lasting almost a week.
He was then the victim of a hit by Zack Fitzgerald, which got the Sheffield man thrown out of the game for checking to the head, before Goulakos himself was ejected in the final minute for a similar offence on Tim Wallace.
Both men are now facing further suspensions, but will line up tonight when the teams go head-to-head again.
There was less than a minute of the game gone when Goulakos and Fretter traded blows, with the Giants player being handed a 10-minute instigator penalty after a fairly even contest.
Anyone thinking that was the issue settled was very much mistaken.
In between the angry exchanges, some hockey was played.
Sheffield grabbed the lead three minutes before the end of the first period. Debutant Eric Neiley made ground and fed Matt Marquardt, who followed up his own rebound to score.
Goulakos was heavily involved in the goal that brought the Giants level at 31:29.
He shot at Ervins Mustukovs and after his effort came back off a post, Steve Saviano was on hand to tap over the line.
Sheffield hit back and restored their lead less than 40 seconds later when Mark Matheson swept the puck into the net after Jackson Whistle had saved from Andreas Jamtin.
Goulakos was then left flat out at centre ice after being hit by Fitzgerald, who was escorted off to cheers from the visiting fans.
There were more cheers from the travelling supporters when, after they had killed a five-on-three penalty, Jamtin snapped up another rebound to put the Steelers 3-1 ahead just before the end of the second period.
The Giants cut the deficit when David Rutherford scored five minutes into the third period and Whistle was then pulled on a powerplay to give the hosts six skaters against four late in the game.
They couldn't make the most of that opportunity and hopes of an equaliser were hit late on when Goulakos clashed with Wallace just 23 seconds from the end - earning him a game misconduct penalty.
And there was still time for Sebastien Sylvestre to be penalised for his reaction to a hit from Cole Jarrett.