Sheffield Steelers could not pull off the win they needed over champions-elect Belfast Giants last night.
A decent performance by the home side couldn’t prevent a significant win for the Irish, who looked so strong in every department.
The South Yorkshire side started the night trailing the title favourites and league leaders by 15 points.
Home coach Doug Christiansen had stuck with a winning team, meaning there was no place for Max Lacroix.
A slip-up is out of the question: Steelers are in joint third on the same points as Nottingham Panthers and Braehead Clan and need to continue their winning run.
But despite dominating much of the first period, they went behind at 12;57, Darryl Lloyd scoring from close range.
The goal came during a one-minute respect-applause for Randy Dagenais, whose daughter died yesterday (see earlier story on this web section>)
Belfast were the better team in the second period, scoring two in 10 minutes, from Kevin Saurette and Evan Cheverie.
Steelers were blunt, offensively, in comparison at that stage.
They improved dramatically in the third session and pulled one back from Nate DiCassmiro, in a battling last session, but eventually blew out of steam.
The night will be remembered for the minute’s applause for the Dagenais family.
Frank Doyle 13+17+5=35
Stephen Murphy 8+12+13=33
Read a fuller weekend analysis in Monday’s Star.
Saturday 18th January 2014
Fife Flyers 5 Edinburgh Capitals 2
Hull Stingrays 4 Dundee Stars 2
Nottingham Panthers 2 Coventry Blaze 3 (OT)
Sheffield Steelers 1 Belfast Giants 3