Belfast Giants 2 - 3 Sheffield Steelers
The Belfast Giants lost out 3-2 to the Sheffield Steelers for the first time in five encounters this season, in what proved to be a hot-tempered clash.
The feisty encounter between the sides saw an old grudge revisited when the Giants’ Spiro Goulakos dropped the gloves with the Steelers’ Colton Fretter almost straight off the bat.
Goulakos had been on the injury list for six weeks after being concussed by a check to the head from Fretter earlier in the season.
The incident caused controversy, and even led to an overhaul of the league’s disciplinary system, but ultimately saw Fretter banned for six games.
The latest incident between the two players saw Fretter handed a five-minute penalty for fighting, while Goulakos took the same, plus a 2+10 instigator penalty.
In that opening period, it was the visitors that ended up taking the lead late on - courtesy of a Matt Marquandt goal.
In a penalty-riddled second period, the Giants grabbed an equaliser when Steve Saviano tapped the puck past Ervins Mustukovs in the Steelers net.
The home side were furious to give up another goal less than a minute later, when Jackson Whistle made the save – but Andreas Jamtin banged in the rebound.
With about seven minutes left in the middle period, a nasty check to the head saw Goulakos floored and the Steelers’ Zack Fitzgerald booted from the game.
Despite a five-on-three opportunity for the Giants, the Steelers killed off their penalties and went on to grab their third goal of the night when Jamtin struck again.
The third period saw the Giants try to get back in the game with a goal from David Rutherford to bring them back within reach of their opponents.
But tempers flared again, with Ryan Martinelli and Eric Neilly going head-to-head.
With the Giants again suffering as a result of penalties, they managed to kill off a five-on-three opportunity for the Steelers.
But the hosts couldn’t get the tie-up goal they needed.
They also lost Goulakos to a five+match penalty for a check to the head in the dying seconds, before Sébastien Sylvestre also ended up heading off down the tunnel.
The sides meet again for what should be an interesting rematch on Saturday, with face-off at 7pm.