What an Xmas present the Giants gave to their fans and coach.
Before the Friday night encounter in Belfast Coventry Coach Paul Thompson believes the next nine games will shape the Blaze’s season.
Coventry Coach Paul Thompson
They headed to Belfast to face the Giants in “Fortress Odyssey” before welcoming Panthers to the Skydome on Sunday evening
Thompson stated: “We have a huge run of nine games starting with the top two this weekend. It is a challenge that we are looking forward to. When we play teams in our conference the intensity and atmosphere increases and they are great battles.”
Well the Blaze leaked twelve goals scoring only one over the two games and Belfast and Nottingham looked both a class act
Giant’s defenseman, Sam Roberts, proved to be the man of the match scoring the opening goal in the very tense encounter. Roberts got Coventry’s net to bulge after a shot from the blue line in the opening minutes of the first period.
That built a foundation for the home team to skate off 4-1 winners over the Coventry Blaze at the Odyssey Arena. Regardless of the final score the Blaze were well in this game until the final three minutes. Coventry hit back through Brad Leeb, which tied up the game 1-1.
Between the pipes for Coventry was Peter Hirsch who remained solid in the visitor’s cage throughout game but was beaten by a shot from Belfast’s Noah Clarke to see the home side edge ahead 2-1.
In the final period, which was still anyone’s game, the Belfast faithful witnessed Giant’s latest signing Kevin Saurette thrown out on a 5+game penalty for clipping, a call more familiarly whistled in American Football. The Blaze powerplay unit was unable to take their opportunity resulting in the Belfast killing off the game.
Belfast finally sealed the game with one of the best shots seen in the Odyssey Arena in some time from Greg Stewart. That was closely followed by and a empty net strike by Matt Towe to put the icing on cake all within the last three minutes of play to ensure the points were staying in Northern Ireland.
The Giants travelled to Steel Town buoyed with confidence following a great 4-1 home victory over Coventry. Could Doug Christiansen men give him the best Christmas Present ever?
Ryan Finnerty Sheffield Steers Head Coach
Well the answer took the full sixty minutes to play out. With the result being Head coach Ryan Finnerty of the Steelers admitting he was gutted following the Steelers 2-1 defeat at home to the Belfast Giants.
“I’m gutted more for the players than I am for myself. We out shot Belfast two to one. We laid 64 hits on the Giants, out worked them, out played them and out chanced them. I can’t fault the guys, every one of them laid it on the line tonight and gave us their all. We came out strong and took the game to Belfast.
I think they were surprised how intense we started. We carried it through a full 60 minutes of play. Murphy made some big saves but so many shots just hit him. Don’t think for a moment that this title race is over. It isn’t. If we continue to play like that we will win more games then we lose and will still take a run at this.
The wrong team won tonight. Sometimes that happens, we have had it happen to us when we have won a game we should have lost. We haven’t got time to feel sorry for ourselves, we have to get up and get dusted off and start again on Boxing Day”
Strong words from Steelers Coach Finnerty but the Giants stuck to their game plan. First and third period goals from Belfast’s Darryl Lloyd gave the Giants their win.
But the final remarks after the game from Giants coach Doug Christiansen were.” Stephen Murphy was the best Giant on the ice tonight by far. Mainly our guys kept their cool and hit the Steelers on the counter attack. Darryl Lloyd stood tall and netted two very important goals one of which was the game winner.
However good the team effort was Murphy was the best Giant on the ice. I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas present than that 2-1 victory in Sheffield.
Giants can take a rest now till the 27th when entertain Braehead Clan followed by the Hull Stingrays on the 29th of December in Fortress Odyssey.
Written by Wayne Hardman