Ice Hockey: Rollercoaster weekend ends on a high as Sheffield Steelers fight back to beat Belfast Giants

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Gerad Adams now knows what he has let himself in for.

The new head coach is running a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde team that can be weak one moment, but utterly outstanding the next.

Action from Sheffield Steelers against Belfast Giants last night

Action from Sheffield Steelers against Belfast Giants last night

An unexpected 5-1 loss at Hull on Saturday night highlighted much of what is wrong with his team, defensively and offensively.

Yet last night, they were 4-1 down before sensationally fighting back to 4-4.

Jeff Legue scored a brace when the Arena side was 4-2 down to set up a stirring penalty shot 5-4 win finale.

All-conquering Belfast, who had been protecting a wonderful 16 consecutive win record, were rested after having a night off on Saturday and they started like a team brimming with confidence.

They managed to skate near Frank Doyle’s crease relatively easily, Jeff Mason, Darryl Lloyd and Jeffrey Szwez all having chances before they went ahead.

Colin Shields controlled a fast pass from Dustin Whitecotton and in an instant had directed it past Doyle, at 11;46.

A minute later Stefan Meyer shrugged off a number of challenges behind the net before squeezing the puck to Rob Dowd, who stroked home the equaliser.

Giants seemed not to be put off their stride though, with Robby Sandrock allowed both time and space to rocket home a shot at 14;09. The nearest marker, Danny Meyers, was at least 10 feet away from him.

Sheffield stumbled further when Dowd coughed up the puck in his own zone and Shields got his second, at 20;31.

A 5-on-3 PP chance for 90 seconds failed to provide a comeback for Steelers, although Jeff Legue hit a post. Belfast’s Kevin Saurette then planted a low shot across Doyle to wrack up 1-4, at 29:51.

Paul Adey’s title-winners, who had amassed 12 more regulation wins than second-placed Sheffield, seemed to be cruising to another victory.

But their margin was reduced when Drew Fata atoned for an earlier miss by scoring high on the power play over Stephen Murphy’s glove hand.

Then Legue’s line took charge, the centreman scoring two in four minutes; the result of constant pressure down low.

It was impossible to pick a winner, although Steelers were the stronger team in overtime.

It was fitting that they won the penalty shoot out - Doyle shutting out three attempts and Chris Blight getting the winner.

* Rotherham-born netminder Ben Bowns was “awesome” - to use one of his favourite words -on Saturday, saving no fewer than 51 shots against his local team.

The chance of a well-earned shut out for the former Steeldog was broken by Dowd with 45 seconds left.

Player/coach Sylvain Cloutier had bagged a couple, Carl Lauzon, Jason Silverthorn and Jereme Tendler getting the singles.

“Awesome atmosphere tonight...awesome performance by the guys...awesome win! My most memorable win over my two years here in sunny Hull” GB international Bowns later tweeted.

Just four League games remain, before the Play Offs campaign begins.

* Great Britain Men’s head coach Doug Christiansen says the battle is on for places for April’s training camp ahead of the World Championship.

Christiansen, the former Steelers coach, named a 35-man long-list preliminary squad in February and this will be cut to 28 for next month’s camp, which includes home games with Netherlands at iceSheffield and Coventry’s Skydome.

GB will then name their final 23-man roster for the World Championship (Division 1B) in Vilinius from 20th to 26th April.

Great Britain will face hosts Lithuania, along with Croatia, Netherlands, Poland and Romania in the six-team IIHF tournament.

Christiansen said: “The way players will get to the training camp is by playing well and to be healthy.

“The coaching staff will be looking at the whole group on the long list - you want guys vying for their spots.

“The training camp will be team building. A lot of these guys have played together before, but they spend eight months playing against each other.

“Bringing them together, getting them to fight for each other, play for each other and play for their country is something that is so important to them.

“The practices are going to be preparing the players for everything.”

GB’s warm-up games with Netherlands will take place at iceSheffield on Saturday 12th April (7:30pm) and in Coventry’s Skydome (5:15pm) a day later.