Giants tough out road win over Steelers
The Belfast Giants have continued their clean sweep over the Sheffield Steelers so far this season, despite going two goals down in Sunday’s 4-3 road win.
The travelling Belfast side headed into the game still seriously short-benched through injury.
Defencemen Jim Vandermeer, Cole Jarrett, and Kevin Raine, forward Dustin Johner, and netminder Stephen Murphy are all still unavailable.
That prompted head coach Adam Keefe to pull his skates back on for his team’s latest encounter with the Steelers, having already warned that he expected to face “the toughest Sheffield side yet”.
The Giants had won out in their first two encounters with Sheffield this season, and knew their opponents would be looking to halt that run of good fortune and prove a point.
With penalties again causing problems for the Belfast side, they went down to three players midway through the opening period and the Steelers promptly drew first blood with a Mathieu Roy goal.
The hosts then doubled their lead before the first break when John Armstrong scored to make it 2-0, while the Giants’ Spiro Goulakos sat a 2+10 for a check from behind.
The Steelers did run into some penalty trouble of their own late in the opening period, with Zack Fitzgerald taking a 5+game for high sticking.
In the second period, the visitors looked to regain some ground.
And a goal from Jonathan Ferland cut the deficit down to 2-1, when he fired past Ervins Mustukovs in the Steelers' net just about four minutes in.
That left the Giants still in the game and needing a big third period.
They certainly started on the right foot, when a Colin Shields slapshot - after less than a minute - drew them level for the first time.
Then Goulakos hammered home the puck unassisted to fire the Giants into the 3-2 lead with about 13 minutes left to play.
Barely a minute later though, tempers flared and both Goulakos and the Steelers’ Colton Fretter were thrown out of the game.
Fretter went for a check from behind after he chased down Goulakos, and the Giant was sent off for 'kicking'.
A Mark Matheson goal drew the sides back level with less than 10 minutes to go.
But a sweet powerplay goal from the Giants' Sébastien Sylvestre was to prove the difference.
He made it 4-3 to the Belfast side and, despite the Steelers pulling Mustukovs for the extra skater late on, that was how the score stayed and the Giants took the crucial two points.
They may have done it the hard way, after a closer-than-it-should-have-been 5-4 win over Guildford Flames on Friday, but the Giants ultimately secured their four-point weekend.
And as Keefer said following that first game: “At the end of the day, they don’t ask how you got there – they ask who won.”
The Giants now need to continue to find their form as “road warriors”, facing each of the Scottish teams – Braehead Clan, Edinburgh Capitals, Dundee Stars, and Fife Flyers - in away games before they finally return home.
They only get back in action at their home arena when they face the Cardiff Devils on Saturday 11 November.