Final score: Sheffield Steelers 2 Belfast Giants 3
Sheffield Steelers have again lost out to competitors who matter most.
They were beaten 3-2 at home by Belfast Giants, who now go four points clear of them at the top of the EIHL Table.
Steelers have now lost eight out of their nine Erhardt Conference meetings.
Before Sunday, three of those losses had come at the hands of Adam Keefe’s outfit, who started the evening alongside Cardiff Devils and Nottingham Panthers on top of the table.
Giants, who recorded two of their previous Steeler wins at Sheffield Arena, started Jackson Whistle in goal and he stopped Andreas Jamtin in an early exchange, followed by efforts from Ben O’Connor, Jonathan Phillips and Davey Phillips.
But no amount of pressure equals a goal. And it was an ex Steeler Colin Shields who scored with a big drive from the right flank, after an assist from Sebastien Sylvestre at 10:40.
Five minutes later the game was all square, with Colton Fretter wrist-shooting home for 1-1, after a contribution from Scott Aarssen.
Tempers often fray between these teams and Keefe and Paul Thompson seemed to be lobbing insults across the benches.
Giants frustrated Steelers after the first interval, Whistle stopping Andreas Valdix at 27:07.
And again they took the lead, Brendan Connolly roofing the puck after the second assist of the night from 24-year-old Canadian Sylvestre.
Steelers came into the match on the back of a healthy 4-1 win at Braehead Clan on Friday, where Miika Franssila made his club debut, but they started the last session one down and then having to kill an O’Connor power Play for high sticks.
Whistle, the 22-year-old son of ex Steelers’ coach Dave, kept his side in front and that allowed Darcy Murphy the opportunity to back-hand home for 3-1 from Blair Riley and David Rutherford at 51;58.
But Robert Dowd dragged the home side back into it three minutes later.
Steelers had a 6-on 4 PP at the death but could not find the equaliser.
Sheffield have to find a way to beat their peers - it’s just not happening right now.
After the game, coach Paul Thompson said it had been an unacceptable performance from his side but a perfect road game from the visitors.
The fourth-placed team trains on Monday - normally their day off.