Sixth home defeat for Steelers

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Steelers have lost six times at home this season out of 12 games - and it doesn’t take me to remind the club that sort of form won’t win titles and trophies.

It won’t assist the drive for bums on seats either - and I wonder what owner Tony Smith, who has admitted to being “annoyed” over home form, thinks of this latest reverse.

Robert Dowd and Steven Goerten in action for Steelers against Belfast Giants

Robert Dowd and Steven Goerten in action for Steelers against Belfast Giants

He must query how they can score four away from home on Saturday, but threaten nothing like it at Sheffield Arena.

Doug Christiansen’s men had been ordered to go out and make up ground on league-leading Giants, who started the night five points clear of Sheffield, having played a game more.

But Steelers were ponderous and mistake-prone in the first session.

Forwards Jeff Legue and Jason Hewitt gave away penalties which Belfast scored on.

Legue had been stripped of the puck and hooked his man. On a 4-on-3 advantage, Jeffrey Szwez slotted home, at 3.44.

Hewitt, perhaps frustrated at himself after passing rather than shooting on a promising play, took interference call on which Robby Sandrock scored, in a move which saw Kevin Saurette escape an offside by a fraction.

Steelers looked passive in the neutral zone and vulnerable to Giants’ fast transition.

But Rob Dowd, a real leader when the imports go missing, got the best out of his team-mates, setting up Steve Goertzen. His goal (1-2) invigorated Steelers but it was Giants who got the next, Szwez whipped past Mark Thomas and set up Colin Shields to score.

Giants’ defensive strength was the deciding feature of the middle period, they killed off a 5-on-3 penalty, although Jeff Legue fashioned three decent chances, two wide and one blocked.

Visiting goalie Stephen Murphy pulled off an immaculate save to deny Dowd and Cody Brookwell did the seemingly impossible in catching super-fast Jonathan Phillips on a breakaway.

Steelers, who beat Giants at home, but lost away to them in October, were unfortunate when Rob Sirianni did beat Murphy, but the puck hit the pipework and ricocheted through the netminder’s legs and out to safety on 28 minutes.

Erhardt Conference rivals Giants, who had shut out Hull Stingrays 2-0 the previous night were in similar skinflint defensive mode in the last session.

Legue, the period’s best player, scored low on the Power Play with an effort Murphy should have saved - the Steelers’ centre at least getting some of the luck that deserted him earlier.

But for the rest of the period the Irish stonewalled Sheffield.