Sheffield Steelers get physical to win vital clash with title rivals Belfast Giants

One thing is certain in the uncertain world of top flight ice hockey in this country… you can never write Steelers off.

By Bob Westerdale
Sunday, 13th March 2022, 9:04 am

Sheffield drew a line under four previous losses to record a 5-2 win at league leaders Belfast Giants.

They showed that they could dig deep when they have to.

And the result means there will still be an exhilarating tussle for the title between the two best teams in the EIHL division.

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John Armstrong illuminates the goal light in Steelers win in Belfast.

Having lost 5-1 the night before at the SSE Arena, Steelers simply had to peg Giants back.

And while they were outshot 41-25, they deserved Saturday's points.

Giants coach Adam Keefe admitted his team had been less sharp, in terms of execution, than they had been the night before.

But that didn't acknowledge the improved form of his opponents and the 39 saves from Rok Stojanovic.

Sheffield coach Aaron Fox Good said it had been a fine example of a hockey game.

“That's play off mentality there, I thought we played a heavy physical game,” he said.

“All guys bought in, we created some of our own luck. I felt we have been missing that in the past three or four games, as energy has not been there for the full 60. I thought we battled and deserved the two points.”

Steelers, who had lost Evan Mosey to injury had Adrian Saxrud-Danielsen back in the line-up and the returnee recorded a +4 night in the plus and minus stats.

But they conceded early. Tanner Eberle was called for holding, and JJ Piccinich scored on the power play.

John Armstrong went hard to the net to make it 1-1 at 4:08, Marco Vallerand with the assist.

Sheffield took the lead for the first time at the weekend at 14:37, an unassisted effort from Martin Látal, a backhander from a tight, near post angle.

The visitors were now on top of Giants, Saxrud-Danielsen and Jonathan Phillips both within an inch of scoring again.

But they were all square again when Ben Lake deflected the puck past Stojanovic at 18.55.

Sheffield's bustling third line put them ahead again, Eberle finishing off a move involving Nico Feldner and Justin Hodgman.

Fox's men had shown themselves to be much clinical after 40 minutes, having been outshot 23-16.

Now they needed to keep the back door shut.

They approached the task with vigour while at the other end, Vojtech Polák was one of three Steelers who could have extended the lead.

And at 50.39, Brandon Whistle made himself available for a Saxrud-Danielsen feed to hit the net for 4-2.

Six minutes later, Antonín Boruta took a boarding call and the heat was well and truly on.

Steelers killed the penalty, and survived, Belfast pulling their goalie for the extra skater, and Robert Dowd punishing them with the fifth.

Keefe summed it up prfectly: "At the end of the day the League title is not suppose to be easy to win...you've got to do it the hard way."