IT may have taken a while but – in the end – it was well worth waiting for.
Going into the third period against Belfast Giants, hosts Sheffield Steelers were frustratingly tied at 1-1 until a four-goal unanswered blitz delivered a deserved victory which sees them boasting a 100 per cent record in defence of their Elite League regular season title after three matches.
After a goalless first period in which the Giants slightly outshot their hosts 11-9, the deadlock was broken when in-form Jesse Schultz fired home from the left side on a feed from Andreas Valdix at 21.06 to give Steelers the edge. That was how it stayed until the visitors levelled at 37.18 through one-time Steelers’ forward and GB international, Colin Shields, whjo benefitted from good work by Mark Garside on the boards.
It was the Giants who enjoyed the better of the early part of the third period, meaning Schultz’s second of the night – and third in two games after his game-winner in Braehead on Friday night – was even more crucial when it came on the powerplay at 51.04, the hosts taking advantage of Belfast’s Ryan Martinelli being in the box on a hooking call.
But it was two goals in as many minutes that settled the encounter. Guillaume Desbiens fired past Jackson Whistle into the bottom left-hand corner when a Valdix feed found him free 10 yards out at 54.21 before defenceman Christoffer Bjorklund joined the play to benefit from some good work by Mathieu Roy down the right boards to make it 4-1 from close-range just 80 seconds later.
The fifth goal – a second powerplay effort of the night – was the icing on the cake for the Steelers, the increasingly influential Valdix making it two in two games having also scored in Braehead, this time slotting home at the back post from Robert Dowd at 58.42.