Honesty from coach after Sheffield Steelers pummel Belfast Giants
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But that 0-4 reverse was never going to happen on Saturday night in the sides’ first game against each other in the 2023-24 EIHL season.
Sheffield mirrored the goal split to their own advantage this time, with a 5-1 home victory. They are a different team than last year – and so are Belfast whose three-straight losses shed light on problems they are going to have to put behind them if they are going to challenge for honours this time round.
It was all too easy in a first period dominated by Sheffield.
They built up a three-goal opening session advantage through Mikko Juusola, Patrick Watling (powerplay) and Brett Neumann, a trio of strikes in a blistering 15 minutes.
American winger Greg Printz gave Belfast flickering hope of a revival.
His side won the middle period but were undone by later goals from Scott Allen and Daniel Ciampini.
It was a victory built on penalty killing, Matt Greenfield’s goaltending, and five different scorers.
There were also 16 minutes of solid work from new Sheffield signing Dominic Cormier.
Adam Keefe, the Giants’ coach, admitted his players had been poor, and had made uncharacteristic mistakes in the way they had conceded goals.
Not many coaches admit personal failings, but Keefe confessed: “It is obviously on me.
“Our preparations were clearly not good this week and I am going to have to take a look at that and what is going on here and reassess here.”
It was a refreshing dose of honesty from Keefe, who led Giants to the treble last season.