With the EIHL title race being tighter than its been in many a year, the Giants arrived in South Yorkshire to take on the Steelers knowing there was little to no room for error. Sheffield had taken the last battle between the sides in the Fly DSA Arena before Christmas, the Giants holding firm at home in between. But Adam Keefe’s side were to suffer a performance full of frustration and toil that led to the Giants dropping points in the race for the title.
An even opening period was punctuated by 2 goals and the ejection of Tanner Eberle for a bad hit in the corner following a Steelers breakaway.
Despite having the #1 ranked powerplay in the Elite League the Giants special teams struggled to get a foothold in the game despite a large number of opportunities. Yet it was a lovely move by Darcy Murphy that opened the scoring in the game going high on Jackson Whistle (0-1, 14:23, Assist: Johner, Baun).
Sadly that was to be the only maker of the game for the visitors. A little under 3 minutes later John Armstrongs strike from the right of goal took a deflection of a stick and bobbled through Tyler Beskorowany to keep things tied as the first ended (1-1, 17:00, O’Connor, D.Phillips).
Into the 2nd and despite a lively opening to the period where the Giants peppered the goal of the Steelers, the attempts were well boxed out by a tight Steelers defensive unit that ensured anything that came the way of Jackson Whistle was easy for the former Giant to handle.
And against the run of play the Steelers were to take the lead. A quick move up the left put the puck diagonally across the Giants D zone to Ryan Martinelli who’s tap through Tyler Beskorowany’s 5-hole sent the former Giant’s D-man into raptures with his celebrations. (2-1, 28:43, Assist: Armstrong, Dowd).
Kyle Baun had the Giants best chance of the 2nd period, a one on one breakaway. But the Giants forward chose to shoot a fraction too early and directly at Whistle who would struggle to make an easier save all night. The Giants just weren’t at the races going forward. The teeth shown over the last number of weeks was missing from this performance.
Further frustration in the 3rd and while the urgency started to creep into the Giants play, the fluency of game still eluded the lads in White and Teal. Anthony DeLuca was to give the insurance goal 12:32 into the period for the home side using the space given from the Giants stepping high in the play to fire by Beskorowany. (3-1, 52:32, Assists: McGrath, J.Phillips).
Despite pulling Beskorowany the Giants tried to get to the net but as per the game they continued to be boxed out by an impressive Steelers D intent on protecting their netminder. Which led to Jona Westerling closing out the game with the empty netter and condemning the Giants to their second defeat of the season in Sheffield (4-1, 59:23, Assist: Neiley).
A tough night for Adam Keefe’s men who will regroup for the visit of the Manchester Storm tomorrow afternoon at the SSE Arena.
Words: Patrick Smyth
Pictures: Dean Wooley