SHEFFIELD Steelers were always going to have to retain their Elite League title the hard way - last night’s 3-2 shoot-out defeat to Belfast Giants has just made that task slightly more difficult, writes Phil Harrison.
The Steelers now sit eight points behind Belfast knowing that in order to win consecutive regular season titles they will likely need to win all three of their games in hand as well as beat the Giants twice in Northern Ireland when the two meet in a double header two weeks from now.
Belfast took the lead on the powerplay at 18.37 through former Steelers favourite Robert Dowd, who threw the puck in front of the net where it took a deflection off the unfortunate Colt King.
Steelers had created plenty of chances before and after Belfast’s opener and got their rewards when they levelled on the powerplay through Jason Hewitt at 26.28.
That joy was short-lived however when Belfast restored their one-goal lead 50 seconds later, another power play opportunity seeing John Pelle weave his way through unchecked to fire past John DeCaro.
The game looked to be slipping away from Steelers until the 56th minute when the industrious Lee Esders levelled after good work by King.
No goals came in overtime and it was left to Craig Peacock to score the match-winning effort in the shoot-out to secure that vital extra point for the visitors.