Giants left to rue rough weekend after heavy defeat by Steelers

The Giants fell to a heavy defeat at the hands of the Steelers. Credit: Dean Woolley

The Belfast Giants lost out on four vital league points after back-to-back defeats over the weekend, including a heavy 8-0 loss to the Sheffield Steelers.

Adam Keefe’s side did put up more a fight in Saturday night’s road game against the Nottingham Panthers.

They came back from 2-0 down, only to lose out 4-2 in the end.

The Giants were edged out by the Panthers in their first game of the weekend. Credit: Panthers Images

But, with fans hoping for a good response when their team took on the Steelers in Sheffield a day later, things only went from bad to much, much worse.

The hosts stunned the Giants with four quick goals in the opening 10 minutes to put them on the back foot right from the get-go.

Liam Kirk and Ben O’Connor struck for the Steelers just 26 seconds apart, while Levi Nelson grabbed their third goal of the game.

To add insult to injury, it was when Spiro Goulakos slipped that Andreas Jamtin – returning from suspension after getting himself thrown out of the game the last time the sides met – broke away to score short-handed and make it 4-0 to the Steelers.

It wasn’t to be the home side’s only shortie of the game either.

In the second period, O’Connor got his second goal of the night while his team were on the penalty kill.

He flew into the Giants’ defensive zone, with support from Jonathan Phillips, to cannon a shot into the net despite Jackson Whistle getting a glove to it.

But if the Steelers could capitalise even while short-handed, penalty trouble cost the Giants dearly throughout the game.

Tempers flared yet again between the sides. Credit: Dean Woolley

Sebastien Sylvestre’s 2+10 for a check to the head took him out of the game for a lengthy spell, joined by Brendan Connolly to sit his minor penalty and Spiro Goulakos who sat for roughing after getting into it with Matt Marquardt in the aftermath of the original hit.

Then Connolly ultimately found himself booted from the game for a check to the head of Cole Shudra – one that made Steelers captain Jonathan Phillips see red.

He went after Connolly as retaliation, with both players penalised with fighting majors.

The Giants survived the rest of that middle period of action, but hopes of any way back in the third were soon dashed.

Giants forward Brendan Connolly was ejected from the game. Credit: Dean Woolley

Just seconds in Marquardt tipped in on the powerplay to make it 6-0 to the Steelers.

There were a few good shifts to come from the Giants, putting sustained pressure on the hosts in an effort to at least prevent their shut-out.

But chances for the likes of Steve Saviano and David Rutherford just couldn’t find a way through Ervins Mustukovs.

The Giants swapped out Whistle for back-up netminder Andrew Dickson, but the Steelers only compounded their agony.

A third short-handed goal came from Jonathan Phillips to make it 7-0.

Then a breakaway chance for Goulakos was denied when O’Connor managed to get back in time, while Marquardt added his second goal of the night at the other end and sealed the 8-0 win.

It may only be the second time the Giants have lost out to the Steelers, but it was still a night to forget for the Belfast side – and one they will have to put behind them quickly if they want to get back on track.

The Cardiff Devils are in danger of opening up a bigger gap at the top of the league table, while the Panthers may take confidence from Saturday’s win over the Giants into their Challenge Cup semi-final first leg clash in Belfast on Wednesday.

The Giants will have to come up with a big response after a disastrous weekend. Credit: Panthers Images