Steelers Advance to Playoff Final Following Victory Over Belfast
Sadly The Belfast Giants fell 2-0 to the Sheffield Steelers on Saturday in the Playoff Semi-Final at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham. With the Cardiff Devils defeating the Dundee Stars 4-2 in Saturday’s first Semi-Final, it will be the Steelers who advance to Sunday’s match against Cardiff in the Grand Final.
The Giants just could not muster a goal as it was the Sheffield Steelers Guillaume Desbiens who fired the Steelers into the lead with only four minutes on the game clock assisted by Andreas Valdix and Robert Dowd.
However it was Belfast who would then go on to control the run of play for much of the opening period, though they found clear-cut chances hard to come by if at all with the close checking Sheffield undertook.
The middle period was filled with end-to-end action with both netminders, Stephen Murphy for Belfast and Mustukovs for Sheffield, keeping the score at 1-0. Murphy was particularly impressive during a two-minute penalty kill mid-way through the period, flashing his glove with a last ditch save while lying on the ice to deny the Steelers.
The Belfast squad continued to push for an equalizer in the second period but again found the Steelers defense, and goaltender Ervins Mustukovs
David Rutherford (91)
Once again the Giants had more of the puck in the third period, but continued to struggle to find a way past the Steelers defense, who kept Walser’s Giants to the outside for much of the final frame – though a late chance for David Rutherford will likely to have left Belfast fans wondering what might have been as the Canadian forwards shot from a tight angle skimmed across the face of goal.
A bench penalty for having too many men on the ice may have all but killed the tie for the Giants, leaving them a man down through the crucial closing stages and the game was truly settled when Levi Nelson flipped the puck in to an empty net with 25 seconds to go.
The Giants then faced the Dundee Stars in Sunday’s Elite League Bronze Medal game, face-off 12pm.
Final Score was Stena Line Belfast Giants 0-2 Sheffield Steelers with the Giants Man of the Match being #43 Derrick Walser
Belfast Giants 0 Sheffield Steelers 2 Game Sheet
The Third Place Bronze Medal Final
The third place Bronze Medal Final was more the test of individual skill and fancy tricks with the stick and punk plus passing from each of the Dundee Star and Belfast Giants players.
The first period ended with a score line of four goals apiece but it could have been a lot more. Skating as at a moderate pace with hits forbidden but scoring was placed at higher accolade and was the key highlight. Strangely the Motorpoint Arena was well attended for this contest.
Second period ended to Belfast netting a yet a further goal tally of nine goals with Dundee still reaping the lower tally of six. I’m sure the Giants would have been pleased some of these scores in last night contest with Sheffield Steelers. The pace quickened during the middle stanza and was enjoyable to watch especial with the Giants scoring goals.
In the final period of this free flowing game the Giants nearly doubled the Star goal output 15 to 8 and what a difference it would have made in the semi-final games had Belfast found that touch for at least two or three score to say the least.
Goal tally for the Giants
19 Colin Shields 2 goals
88 Ryan Martinelli 2 goals
25 Blair Riley 1 goal
Michael Forney 2 goals
68 Chris Higgins 1 goal
8 Michelle Quesnele 1 goal
9 Jim Vandermeer 1 goal
Written by Wayne Hardman