Belfast Giants still top of Elite League despite defeat at Sheffield Steelers

Belfast Giants picked up a win and a loss in Sheffield. PICTURE: Dean Woolley
Belfast Giants picked up a win and a loss in Sheffield. PICTURE: Dean Woolley
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The Stena Line Belfast Giants fell to a first defeat in twelve Elite League games as the Sheffield Steelers took Sunday’s game 4-2.

The Giants and Steelers split their weekend series in Sheffield as the league’s in-form sides went toe-to-toe in two epic battles at the Sheffield Arena.

The Giants ran out 4-2 winners at the FlyDSA Arena on Saturday evening.

It was the visitors who would take a deserved lead after setting the tone in the opening period of play. Jim Vandermeer skated the puck into the Steelers zone, reversed a pass to Blair Riley whose shot rebounded in front of David Rutherford for the forward to slam home at 12:20.

The hosts hit back in the middle period when former Giant Rob Dowd struck.

Belfast regained the lead in the second minute of the final period. Following good work by Hunter Bishop and Jonathan Ferland, Francis Beauvillier followed up on his initial shot to shoot high into the Steelers net.

Giants captain Blair Riley gave his side a two goal advantage at 49:44 as he and David Rutherford combined well for the visitors third goal.

Eric Neiley set up a frantic finish when he pulled one back for the Steelers at 51:23, scoring on a penalty shot awarded by the Referee.

However Darcy Murphy secured the two points for the Giants with an unassisted empty net finish.

The Steelers reversed the score line 24 hours later though.

Sheffield got off to the better start of the two sides and grabbed a quick first period double from Rob Dowd.

The hosts extended their lead at 23:07 thanks to a bit of fortune. Josh McFadden’s pass deflected off the skate of Josh Roach and trickled past Beskorowany into the Giants net.

Ben O’Connor netted the Steelers fourth with a 5-on-3 strike before Francis Beauvillier and Blair Riley pulled goals back for the Giants.

Despite defeat the Giants remain in top spot, one point clear of the Nottingham Panthers who have played three games more.

The Giants remain on the road with an Elite League clash on Wednesday night in Dundee, face-off 7:30pm.