A stirring third period comeback by the Belfast Giants gave them a 4-3 win over the Sheffield Steelers yesterday and completed a doubleheader sweep at the Odyssey Arena following the 4-2 success on Saturday.
Officially Paul Adey’s side need seven more wins from their fourteen remaining games but that figure gets less with every loss from the teams below them.
Their lead at the top of the Elite League is nineteen points over Dundee and Sheffield as they continued a run of seventeen wins in their last 18 league games, their only loss an overtime defeat to Dundee.
The Giants were out-shot 2-to-1 in Saturday’s clash but netminder Stephen Murphy was in outstanding form making 46 saves as the Steelers threw everything at his net.
In front of a season high crowd of 5532 the home side made an electric start when Jeffrey Szwez took the puck straight to the net and beat goalie Frank Doyle on the backhand.
But they weren’t ahead for long as Jonathan Phillips equalised at 1:42. It was a frenetic start to the game and it continued when Szwez scored his second at 14:40 to put the home side ahead at the first intermission.
Despite Sheffield out shooting the Giants 18-8 in the second period they were unable to find a way past Murphy, his defencemen and the penalty killers who held out.
The next goal was going to be crucial and at 47:30 Mark Garside skated around the back of the Steelers cage, put the puck in the slot and captain Adam Keefe was on target. Just over three minutes. on the powerplay, Szwez completed his hat trick.
The Steelers got one back 26 seconds later as Robert Dowd scored on the powerplay but that was as close as they were to get.
It took a little longer for the Giants to go ahead in yesterday’s encounter - 34 seconds to be exact when defenceman Davy Phillips scored his first goal of the season with a perfect shot from the point that beat Doyle above his blocker.
Yet again however the Steelers weren’t behind for long as Jeff Legue levelled at 2:40 on the powerplay.
But it was with the man advantage of their own that the Giants retook the lead at 17:51 with a picture perfect goal and Robby Sandrock and Chris Higgins combined to set up Craig Peacock.
However the Steelers, rather like in the first game, dominated the second period and strokes from Dustin Kohn and Chad Langlais put the ahead with twenty minutes remaining.
The Giants have had the knack of coming on strong in the final period and they did so again to stun the Steelers
Higgins persistence allowed Peacock to score his second of the game at 41:34 and the eventual game winner came on the powerplay at 46:49 when Sandrock’s blueline shot was redirected by Kevin Saurette.
Next up for the Giants is a trip to Cardiff on Wednesday night in the second leg of the Challenge Cup semi-final where they have a 7-1 advantage.