Teddies rain down as Giants win against Sheffield
Belfast Giants 2 - 1 Sheffield Steelers
By Victoria Steveley
Teddies rained down at the SSE Arena on Saturday night when the Belfast Giants scored the opening goal of their game against the Sheffield Steelers, on their way to a crucial 2-1 win.
It was Colin Shields who scored first, with just under five minutes gone, to boost his side into the early lead.
His powerplay goal also gave fans the cue to throw hundreds of soft toys of all shapes and sizes onto the ice, all for a good cause.
They were then collected by players from both teams and will be delivered by the Giants to children in hospitals across Belfast in time for Christmas.
When the action resumed, there were chances at both ends, with the Steelers particularly pushing to try to find a way to put an equaliser past Belfast netminder Jackson Whistle.
However, the game stayed locked at 1-0 heading into the first break.
The teams battled out a scoreless second period and the Giants took their narrow lead into the final 20 minutes of play.
In the third period, there was a great unassisted goal from Michael Forney to put the Giants 2-0 up over the visitors.
And there was a chance straight after that for Chris Higgins, with the forward scrambling to try to make something of it even when he ended up sprawled on the ice.
With just over a minute left on the clock, the Steelers grabbed a goal back through John Armstrong, from assists by Mathieu Roy and Rob Dowd.
The Steelers even pulled netminder Ervins Mustukovs to try to get the equaliser, but it wasn't to be and the Giants took a big 2-1 win.
After his performance between the posts, Jackson Whistle was named as the Giants Man of the Match.
Meanwhile, opening scorer Colin Shields was presented with his Player of the Month trophy - following in the footsteps of David Rutherford and Blair Riley - by little fan Blake McCaughey on behalf of A View From The Bridge.
The victory comes after a tough run of road games for the Giants, with Saturday marking their first encounter back on home ice in a month.
They needed a good result, especially against the Steelers who have been challenging towards the top of the league table and on a night when points were also taken off current leaders the Cardiff Devils.
Coach Derrick Walser said his side were just glad to be home and to get the win for the fans after some disappointing results in recent weeks.
"We're looking forward to getting back here for more than one game and showing the guys we haven't quit," he said.
"We're going to try to climb these standings and it's just going to take a game at a time.
"If we continue to play this way, we're going to win more games than we lose - we don't want this league to become a two-team race."
WATCH: Coach Derrick Walser on getting the Giants back on track
The Belfast Giants are next in action when they take on the Manchester Storm in yet another road game at 5.30pm on Sunday.