PAUL THOMPSON quickly moved on to preparations for Sheffield Steelers' Continental Cup challenge after ending their three-day trip to Northern Ireland on a losing note.
Taking four points from their double-header against hosts Belfast Giants was always going to be difficult, particularly against a side who had beaten them in each of the four previous meetings between the two this season.
But, after ending their losing streak against Adam Keefe's side with a rousing 3-2 win on Friday night, indiscipline got the better of the Steelers 24 hours later when they went down 5-1.
Now the Steelers' attentions turn to Belarus capital of Minsk, where they fly out to on Wednesday to prepare for the final of the Continental Cup, a four-team, round robin tournament against the hosts, Italy's Ritten Sport and Kazakhstan's Nomad Astana. At place is a spot in next season's Champions Hockey League.
"We gave everything we had on Friday and emptied the tank," said Thompson. "We therefore had to be smart and disciplined. Andreas was our best player on Friday but Rutherford got under his skin second time around and he reacted. Rutherford is good at that. It wasn’t part of our gameplan.
“The penalties came and the Giants took their chances, credit to them. We then took tired penalties, ones we wouldn’t normally take. The boys never gave up though, they remained positive as we tried everything we could to get back in the game.
"But we have come a long way in the past few weeks and I’m proud how we have stuck together and battled through a difficult time. I think it is seven wins out of eight now, which in this league is good going.
“We just need get home, rest up and then plan for next weekend."
Already without defenceman Zack Fitzgerald as he served the first of a four-game suspension incurred for an illegal check to the head in the previous night's game, the Steelers' plight soon got worse when they lost Swedish forward Andreas Jamtin on a game misconduct after a cross-checking call on David Rutherford.
It handed the Giants a seven-minute powerplay, but the Steelers held out for almost four minutes until Colin Shield back-handed the puck through Ervins Mustukovs' legs. Only 31 more seconds had passed before the home side doubled their advantage when Rutherford tipped n from Blair Riley's shot.
A check-from-behind call on Miika Franssila then left the Steelers on a 5-on-3 penalty kill, which they had just about negotiated when Jonathan Ferland fired in to make it 3-0.
Rutherford added his second of the night at 29.09 and although Ben O'Connor's slapshot faint hopes at 47.14, the game was effectively over even before Shields grabbed his second of the evening with just 76 seconds remaining.