Sheffield Steelers will this week present stand-in coach Gerad Adams with a two-year contract offer after he revolutionised their fortunes with a sensational Play Off final win against the champions, last night.
Adams managed to turn an out-of-sorts, unpredictable team into Play Off finalists... and then steered them to a dramatic underdog victory over a crack Belfast.
Only a few short weeks ago, Adams inherited an unbalanced team riddled with inconsistency and with a fragile psychology.
He turned that melancholy outfit into one that wanted to have fun - and win.
Last night,they repaid him. In full. Drew Fata scored a cracking overtime winner to bring the Play Off trophy back to Sheffield Arena.
Afterwards Adams said he was “jumping out of my skin” with happiness, but felt the win belonged to players and staff who had been there all season.
He said “a number of factors” were involved in him signing for Sheffield next year, but he felt the organisation was a “first class one” in the way they treated players.
Giants coach Paul Adey said he thought his side had been the superior of the two and they deserved to win, but hadn’t buried their chances.
In the opening seconds of the game, Rob Dowd had a wrap-around chance but much of the early pressure was from Belfast.
Giants, who could count on local support from anti-Sheffield Nottingham fans in the NIC, fashioned a couple of chances through Kevin Saurette and Chris Higgins.
Steelers started to look passive with only Jason Hewitt and Phil Hill taking the body.
And goaltender Frank Doyle had to pull off a classic one-handed save on 16 minutes to ensure a goalless first period.
Sheffield’s best chance fell to Stefan Meyer who cannoned off Steve Murphy’s shoulder.
Two minutes into the second session, Belfast forged ahead. With Danny Meyers unable to claim the puck, Cody Brookwell directed the it, via a deflection, into Sheffield’s net at 24;24.
Three minutes later Hewitt’s right wing shot rebounded out straight to Hill, who slammed it into an almost empty net.
Fata, who earlier had suffered a facial injury, was complaining he’d been unfairly decked on the right flank as Giants made use of his absence at the back to score through Colin Shields on 29;38.
Sheffield briefly lost their way with defencemen and forwards struggling to contain the Irish.
But Adams’ men had what the coach called a ‘light switch moment’ - and created a couple of chances before Dowd made it 2-2 at 37;25.
Evan Cheverie had two decent chances in the last of regulation time - before Fata stepped up 67 seconds into overtime to wallop home the winner and trigger scenes of jubilation in the stands and on the ice.
Period Scores: 0-0, 2-2, 0-0, 0-1
Penalty Mins: Bel 0+6+0+0=6, She 0+2+0+0=2
Powerplay: Bel 1/1, She 0/3
Shots On: Stephen Murphy 7+13+10+2=32, Frank Doyle 15+15+7+1=38
Referee: Tom Darnell
n On Saturday, Steelers survived a topsy turvy semi final to beat Braehead Clan.
Centreman Nate DiCasmirro was one of the heroes, he equalised Neil Trimm’s opener and had a hugely effective game.
Clan dominated the 1-1 middle period, Dustin Kohn and Ash Goldie goals cancelling each other out. It was left to Dowd to score the winner - and Doyle to back-stop an implacable defence.