Sheffield Steelers make it a memorable St Paddy’s night at Belfast Giants in 5-2 win

Sheffield Steelers' Ben O'Connor competes for the puck at the SSE Arena, Belfast.
Sheffield Steelers' Ben O'Connor competes for the puck at the SSE Arena, Belfast.

Sheffield Steelers handed Belfast Giants a whopping St Patrick’s Day hangover.

The champions showed they still have what it takes with a bold 5-2 road win. They deservedly closed the gap on second-place Giants to one point.

Belfast were put under early pressure when Deriick Walser was called for hooking, and Levi Nelson had a half-chance. And the home netminder had to contain a decent effort from Colton Fretter.

Giants began to step it up and had the benefit of a 5-on3 Power Play. Ervins Mustuokvs, the league’s joint top netminder with a 91% save ratio pulled off some excellent saves and earned some luck when Jim Vandermeer hammered his cross bar.

With Steelers attracting more sin bin time, through Mike Ratchuk, it was again down to the Latvian to protect his net. But they turned a Narkus Nilsson penalty to their advantage at 24;32, Mathieu Roy smashing home a short-handed past Stephen Murphy.

Giants were gifted a chance to redeem themselves with a 5-on-3 PP with Jace Coyle and Nelson ordered to the box but they were kept out by a hugely-disciplined penalty kill.

At the half way point, Sheffield showed their class again; Nilsson tipping home.

Sheffield’s resolve was tested when Rod Sarich was canned with a 10 minute misconduct penalty and they then had to face another 5-on-3. Their resistance finally broke when Jérome Leduc, a relatively newly-signed defenceman, slipped around Mustukovs to make it 2-1, with assists from Giants’ creator-in-chief Chris Higgins and top scorer Blair Riley.

But Sheffield staggered the home support with two goals in 33 seconds.

Geoff Walker and Roy rattled in efforts to give them a three-goal advantage.

It wasn’t all going their way though and veteran centre James Desmarais reduced the deficit at 46:45 - the third goal of an explosive 54-second spell.

Giants risked an empty net but were punished by Guillaume Desbiens to wrap up a memorable St Paddy’s night.

Steelers, who struck six past title-favourites Cardiff Devils last Sunday, host them on Saturday evening (7pm.) They then have just two games left in the regular season.

RESULTS

Friday 17th March

Elite League

Belfast Giants 2 Sheffield Steelers 5

Dundee Stars 1 Nottingham Panthers 4

FIXTURES

Saturday 18th March

Elite League

Belfast Giants v Coventry Blaze – 7.00pm

Edinburgh Capitals v Nottingham Panthers – 6.00pm

Fife Flyers v Braehead Clan – 7.15pm

Manchester Storm v Dundee Stars – 7.00pm

Sheffield Steelers v Cardiff Devils – 7.00pm

Sunday 19th March

Elite League

Cardiff Devils v Fife Flyers – 6.00pm

Coventry Blaze v Braehead Clan – 5.15pm

Edinburgh Capitals v Nottingham Panthers – 6.00pm