It’s a Devil of a night for Sheffield Steelers coach Steven Goertzen

Sheffield Steelers player-coach Steven Goertzen
Sheffield Steelers player-coach Steven Goertzen
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Steven Goertzen - who played 68 games in the best league in the world - added another feather to his cap last night by icing his first game as player-coach.

But sadly, it was a painful, personal experience as he had to be led off the ice and treated after a big-hit injury during Sheffield Steelers 3-2 penalty shoot defeat at Cardiff Devils.

It wasn’t just the physical pain...it was the fact that Sheffield’s loss confirmed Belfast Giants as Elite League champions, this season.

The 29-year-old former NHL winger - who now seems to have a major concussion - won’t linger long on last night when he comes to reflect on his 15-season career.

But Belfast surely will.

Devils, who surrendered a 3-0 lead at Hull on Saturday before eventually dipping 5-3,had started brightly, scoring on a delayed penalty at 8.41, before a modest crowd of 1,656.

Jake Morrisette - who had failed to find the net in his last 11 outings - finished off a rebound after a move fashioned by Luke Piggott and Matthew Myers, although Steelers’ goalie Frank Doyle was protesting the game should have been stopped before the puck crossed the line.

Cardiff’s Polish netminder Kamil Kosowski made a great stop to prevent his side losing the initiative in the first period.

The goalie was in for a difficult second session, he seemed to suffer a head injury in a challenge with Max Lacroix.

He was beaten at 23;10, Steeler Chad Langlais finishing on a Power Play.

But Steelers were undermined when Goertzen skated off to the dressing room after a hit.

And Cardiff took advantage when Mac Faulkner scored a second at 35;49.

Yet Steelers weren’t letting them have it their own way and Tim Spencer potted a 2-2 equaliser, with Langlais assisting.

Nobody could master the other in regulation time; so the game moved into the extra segment, in which Doyle thwarted a penalty shot from Andrew Lord .

Then it was on to full-scale penalty shoot-out, which saw Max Birbraer score the decisive shot - for Cardiff and Belfast.

* Steelers try to claw back a 5-3 deficit tomorrow night at Nottingham Panthers, in the second leg of the Challenge cup final. On Wednesday, Arena fans will get their first chance of seeing a Goertzen team at home, against Cardiff.

FULL SUNDAY ROUND-UP

Belfast Giants clinched the Elite League title for a fourth time on Sunday night after beating defending champions Nottingham Panthers 3-1.

That victory, combined with defeats for all three of their nearest challengers - Braehead, Dundee and Sheffield - meant the Giants could not be caught at the top of the standings as they boast a 22-point lead.

Chris Higgins, Robby Sandrock and Kevin Saurette were on the scoresheet for Belfast at the National Ice Centre as the Giants recorded an 11th successive win, with David Clarke having equalised for Nottingham in the second period.

Belfast also received a helping hand from elsewhere, with second-placed Braehead Clan losing 4-2 at Coventry Blaze, while third-placed Sheffield Steelers suffered a 3-2 penalty-shot loss to Cardiff Devils.

Dundee Stars, in fourth, also tasted defeat as they were beaten 4-3 by Scottish rivals Edinburgh Capitals at Murrayfield Ice Rink, Curtis Leinweber netting twice in the third period for the victors.

Also on Sunday, second-bottom Fife Flyers thrashed Hull Stingrays 7-2.