The Belfast Giants season came to a shocking end as they lost 3-2 to the Sheffield Steelers in overtime in the Elite League play-off final in Nottingham.
Drew Fata’s snap shot 1:24 into the extra period went high over the glove of Giants netminder Stephen Murphy and into the roof of the net and just like that it was over.
The Giants can point to a hugely successful campaign in which they won the Elite League title by 23 points and they came within a loss to Nottingham in a penalty shoot-out in the Challenge Cup final and an overtime winner yesterday of a Grand Slam.
As it was they are the fourth Giants side to win the league and fail to go to win another trophy in the same season which is disappointing for such a talented group of players.
The Giants iced without captain Adam Keefe who succumbed99 to the knee injury that he suffered in the quarter-final at Hull. He tried it out in warm-up but simply couldn’t go so Belfast’s Gareth Roberts took his place.
It was a scoreless opening period with the Giants coming out of the gates strongly but failing to convert on a number of good chances.
On the powerplay at 24:24 the Giants took the lead when Cody Brookwell’s shot took a deflection and beat Frank Doyle.
The Steelers equalised at 27:36 when a shot hit Murphy on the face mask, bounced in the air and Phil Hill had the easiest of tap-ins, unlucky for Murphy who had another outstanding game.
The Giants weren’t level for long when Colin Shields put them ahead for a second time at 29:48 but the Steelers dominated the latter stages of the second period and levelled again through Robert Dowd.
The final twenty minutes was a tense affair with Murphy and Doyle matching each other save for save and so for the second time in two years the final went to overtime and the Giants suffered the same fate as they did twelve months ago when Fata scored the sudden death winner.
“I don’t think we got what we deserved in the game. Overall I thought we were the better team, it was a close game and both teams battled hard and when it goes to overtime anything can happen but overall I thought we deserved better,” explained coach Paul Adey.
“The toughest one to win is the league championship and we can be very proud of that and to come so close missing out in a shoot-out and now in overtime is tough but its been a great season.”
The Giants made it through to the final beating the Fife Flyers 1-0 on Saturday in a tense semi-final.
Kevin Saurette was the hero with the only goal of the game coming at 47:42 while Murphy made 24 saves for the shutout.