SHEFFIELD Steelers head coach Ryan Finnerty said his players had no time to “feel sorry for themselves” after losing out to Elite League title rivals Belfast Giants last night.
The result leaves the Steelers 10 points adrift of overall league leaders Nottingham Panthers, who they face in a festive double header later this week.
Nottingham will head into the back-to-back fixtures on a high after following up Saturday night’s 7-1 home win over Fife Flyers with an 8-0 demolition of hosts Coventry Blaze last night.
Daryl Lloyd’s 42nd-minute winner proved the difference last night in South Yorkshire.
It was Lloyd who had given the visitors the lead at 16.31 before the Steelers hauled themselves level through Simon Ferguson’s first goal for the club four minutes into the second period.
Finnerty said his side needed to quickly switch their focus on to Boxing Day’s eagerly-anticipated trip to Nottingham, which will be followed by a rematch 24 hours later in Sheffield.
“Don’t think for a moment that this title race is over – it isn’t,” said Finnerty. “If we continue to play like that we will win more games then we lose.
“We out-worked them, out-played them and out-chanced them – every one of those players laid it on the line and gave us their all. The wrong team won (last night), sometimes that happens. But we haven’t got time to feel sorry for ourselves, we have to get dusted off and go again on Boxing Day.”
Steelers’ weekend had started on a positive note when they ground out a 4-2 win at Hull Stingrays on Saturday night.
First period goals from Matt Stephenson, Drew Fata and Jeff Legue gave the Steelers a 3-1 lead at the end of the first, Dominic Osman having struck back for the home side on the powerplay.
The in-form Osman made it a one-goal game with another powerplay strike at 32.47, but the next goal crucially went the way of the Steelers when Ashley Tait netted at 47.55.
It was not all doom and gloom for Sylvain Cloutier’s Hull, however, after they picked up their first point against Erhardt Conference opposition in a 2-1 overtime defeat at Cardiff Devils.
A 54th-minute goal from Jereme Tendler cancelled out Josh Batch’s 11th-minute opener for the home side, but it was Cardiff who prevailed in overtime when Mac Faulkner snatched the extra point for his team at 60.18.
“That is a massive point for us,” said player-coach Cloutier.
“Hopefully we are starting to turn things around now. We got away from our game for a few weeks, but it has been much better this weekend. I thought we competed well in both games.”
Sheffield Steeldogs’ miserable run continued in the English Premier League after they followed up a 3-2 home defeat to Peterborough Phantoms with a 5-2 defeat at Guildford Flames last night.