Belfast Giants v Sheffield Steelers: Another defeat sees Steelers needing a lift before Play Off campaign

There is no sugarcoating it - Sheffield Steelers are heading into the Play Offs on the back of some damaging results.

Saturday, 16th April 2022, 9:55 am

On Friday, they lost their fourth consecutive match, five defeats in six games.

That mirrors the exact same sequence at the start of last month.

The statistics are painful for the Orange Army; their team has lost their last two at home, their last three away.

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But there were crumbs of comfort, at least, when they fell 5-4 to Belfast Giants on Friday.

Two goals and a late rally to come back from 4-2 down at the SSE Arena showed resilence and spirit.

They took the game to overtime, however an immaculate stretch pass and clinical finish from Jordan Boucher stopped any thoughts of a moral-boosting two points in Steelers' last match of the League campaign.

That goal signalled an excruciating end for Steelers - a similar feeling they'd had to endure pre-game when Belfast unfurled the championship banner at one end of the rink.

Sheffield Steelers' Antonin Boruta closes in on a Belfast Giants opponent

Coach Aaron Fox now has the task of rebuilding the side ahead of next weekend's Play off quarter finals.

Sheffield, who had been shut out 2-0 in a midweek game at Glasgow Clan, were without Barry Brust, Keeton Ellerby and Vojtech Polak.

Brandon Whistle was first line centre and up against his brother Jackson in the home goal.

Tanner Eberle was still clearing his head after a heavy fall into the boards when Belfast almost took the lead, JJ Piccinich striking Steelers' post.

Sheffield Steelers' Justin Hodgman contests the puck

Eberle was soon back in action and came close to opening the scoring, as did Justin Hodgman.

Belfast, riding along with such a feelgood factor amongst their fans in the 6,125 crowd, took the lead at 18:31, centreman Slater Doggett scoring past an unsighted Stojanovic.

The sides twice traded goals in a lively second period.

Sheffield defended a Tommaso Traversa tripping penalty and then equalised through Marco Vallerand, unassisted, at 28:34.

Sheffield Steelers goalie Rok Stojanovic under the cosh at Belfast

Parity lasted just seven minutes with Boucher getting the home fans on their feet.

But Robert Dowd backhanded home after good work from Martin Látal behind the net, to make sure there was nothing between the rivals going into the third ssession.

Steelers could not score on a 40th minute power play, but Giants suffered no such inability when it was their turn.

With Dowd witting out a high sticking call Lewis Hook finished crisply at 47:42.

Two minutes later 17-year-old local lad Mack Stewart had a moment to savour when he scored his first professional goal with a tip in.

Sheffield drew one back on the power play from Kevin Schulze.

Belfast Giants parade the EIHL trophy

Antonin Boruta hit Whistle's pipework in what looked like the best chance to level in regulation time, but then Eberle netted to level it 4-4 with 63 seconds left on the clock.

There was to be no upsetting the form book though, and Belfast won the game two minutes into overtime, Boucher completing a defence splitting pass.