A 4pm puck drop on Sunday had barely given the respective fan bases of the Belfast Giants and Sheffield Steelers time to get over the rollercoaster ride of Saturday night.
The Sheffield Steelers had switched goaltenders, scratching Brad Day and starting Matt Climie over Jackson Whistle, who dressed for the bench. The other notable omission from the Steelers lineup being Jordan Owens.
The Giants meanwhile looked the deepest they’d been in a while- only missing Guillaume Gelinas and the yet to debut Chris Higgins. Tyler Beskorowany was once again given the nod in goal, with Stephen Murphy on the bench.
The SSE Arena voiced their displeasure at a number of questionable missed calls by referees Wells and Copeland- the game noticeably increasing in physicality as the first ten minutes rolled on.
The first call of the night came at 9.17 as Robert Dowd sat for hooking, however the Giants power play unit struggled to establish themselves in the zone.
They were to get another opportunity at 13.04 however, and this time Patrick Dwyer made no mistake- sending the puck past Climie with a deflection off former Giant Ryan Martinelli unassisted at 14.11. (1-0)
The Sheffield Steelers penalty woes continued as Ryan Martinelli headed to the bench for slashing at 16.16- but the Sheffield penalty kill unit took care of the danger to see out the first 20 minutes.
Shots on goal: Belfast 12-14 Sheffield
Both sides exchanged power plays in the first ten minutes of the second period as Jonathan Boxill sat for slashing at 24.08, before back to back Steelers penalties gave Belfast the man advantage for four minutes (DeLuca hooking 27.03, Della Rovere high stick 29.21).
Both sides created space and chances in an end to end back ten of the period- but neither could find the net in a nervy encounter which certainly didn’t live up to the quality of Saturday night’s barn burner.
Shots on goal: Belfast 35-24 Sheffield
Belfast were to open the third period on the penalty kill after Jim Vandermeer took two minutes for holding on a Steelers break as the second period expired.
Sheffield’s Aaron Johnson took possession of the puck in the left hand side of the Giants zone, playing a cross ice pass to Evan McGrath who teed off from the right faceoff circle past Tyler Beskorowany’s high right at 41.14. (1-1)
Robert Dowd served a bench minor at 50.09 for too many men on the ice, and before the Giants could set up any kind of meaningful power play, Tanner Eberle broke away through the neutral zone, setting up John Armstrong in the left side of the Giants zone for a beautiful short handed snipe past Beskorowany at 50.59. (1-2)
Step up Mr Patrick Dwyer. The NHL veteran sent the home fans wild with back to back goals within a minute to complete his hat-trick- his first an off the bench laser with an assist from Dustin Johner, and his second unassisted. (2-2 / 3-2)
But the Belfast Giants weren’t finished. Darcy Murphy struck just moments later with an unassisted marker to extend the home side’s lead at 57.30. (4-2)
A Kyle Baun penalty with 1.36 left in the game once again saw the Steelers pull their goaltender and go 6 on 4. Jonas Westerling found the puck in the right circle and roofed a stunning shot past Tyler Beskorowany to pull the visitors to within a goal. (4-3)
A nervous final few seconds followed as Belfast pinned the puck deep in their zone and held on for the win.
A critical four point weekend for Adam Keefe’s men.
PODCAST: Dipsy Doodle – This Week’s A View From The Bridge has Colin Shields sharing a few stories. The lads look back at 3 in 3 for the Giants and discuss the NCAA return this weekend ahead of the Steelers games
A View From The Bridge Podcast, Official Podcast of the Belfast Giants, part of Kingdom Of The Giants.
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Words: Joel Neill
Audio: Joel Neill / AVFTB
Images: William Cherry / PressEye