Giants Suffer Sudden Death Loss In Playoff Final
The Stena Line Belfast Giants took the lead on two occasions but couldn’t get their hands on the Elite League Playoff Championship as Sheffield defence man Drew Fata tallied a sudden death winner for the Steelers.
The teams had ended regulation tied at 2-2 in what had been a tremendous final but only 1.34 into the extra period it was Fata who ignited the Steelers following in the National Ice Center, firing past Stephen Murphy to give his side victory.
It was no surprise that it was a fast start by both sides and there were few stoppages in the early play as play went from end to end. The early opportunities saw Darryl Lloyd go close twice for Giants and Stefan Meyer for Steelers but the best chance in the period saw Chris Higgins miss the target in the 11thÂ minute when Giants broke 2 on 1.
A couple of minutes later Robert Dowd almost forced the puck home in front but at the other end it took a great sprawling save from Frank Doyle to deny Giants the opening goal in a period that the league champions just about shaded.Â Â Â
It was all action in the second session with theÂ Â teams sharing four goals to leave the destination of the silverware still very much in the balance.
There had been no penalties in the opening period but only 30 seconds in and Giants were forced to kill off a tripping call on Dustin Whitecotton with Stephen Murphy making smart saves from Drew Fata and Stefan Meyer. Giants then went on the powerplay themselves when Tim Spencer was binned for tripping and took full advantage when a blast from Cody Brookwell took a couple of deflections on its way into the net at 24.24.
An interference call on Evan Cheverie was killed off by Giants but at 27.36 the game was tied when Phil Hill was on the spot to score from close range. Play had really stepped up a notch now and it was tremendous stuff at both ends. Giants regained the lead at 29.48 when Colin Shields stabbed home from the edge of the crease but this signalled Steelers best spell of the match and it was game on again at 37.25 as Chad Langlais fired past Murphy from close in.
Higgins was assessed a tripping call at the buzzer so Steelers started period three on the powerplay.
Giants successfully killed off the Steelers man-advantage in a third period that simply didnâ€™t let up as both sides went for victory. Evan Cheverie went close twice for Giants and Robert Dowd was denied by a spectacular Murphy glove save as chances were created at both ends.
Both sides had claims to win it with the puck scrambling past the goal frame in the latter stages but regulation could not split the teams and it went to the 4 on 4 sudden death overtime session ending with Fata stepping up as the Steelers hero.