The 16-game winning streak of the Belfast Giants came to an end last night as they lost 5-4 after penalty shots at the Sheffield Steelers.
The last time Paul Adey’s side lost was on January 3rd when Dundee beat them in overtime.
Since then they had gone on a run that saw them win the Elite League title with ten games to spare and its to their credit that the last five victories of the streak came after they’d clinched the championship in games that meant very little to them.
However by picking up a point the Giants made it 29 games without a defeat in regulation.
Adey and his players have talked openly about the motivation factor in trying to get themselves up for games that mean nothing but they showed in Friday night’s comeback against the Cardiff Devils when they scored three times in the final nine minutes to overturn a 4-2 deficit, that they are unwilling to lose and the fact that they coughed up a 4-1 lead last night will still be annoying to them.
Colin Shields had put the Giants in front only for Robert Dowd to equalize but a strike from Robby Sandrock gave the visitors a 2-1 lead at the first intermission. When Shields fired home his second of the game and Kevin Saurette netted his 34th of the season just before the halfway point it looked like the Giants were well on their way to another road win.
But Drew Fata pulled the Steelers within two goals with a powerplay effort and two quick strikes from Jeff Legue tied the game early in the third period.
There would be no more scoring after overtime before Dustin Whitecotton, Craig Peacock and Sandrock all missed in the penalty shoot-out which meant Chris Blight, the only shooter to score, gave the Steelers only their second win over the Giants in their eight league meetings this season.
The Giants will face the Nottingham Panthers in a re-arranged league game at the Odyssey Arena on Wednesday night, a dress rehearsal for the first leg of the Challenge Cup final which comes up on Friday, March 21.