IN terms of a perfect response, it’s fair to say Sheffield Steelers got it spot-on against hosts Belfast Giants on Saturday night – much to the delight of head coach Aaron Fox.
Having seen the Giants gain revenge for the 5-0 defeat they suffered in South Yorkshire 10 days previously, the Steelers were able to quickly answer back themselves after going down 6-2 in Northern Ireland on Friday night by being full value for a 4-0 win just 24 hours later.
“We talked after the loss on Friday about being battle-ready because we kind of got run out of the building in the previous game and got bullied a little bit,” said Fox.
“But tonight we grinded away and I feel we dominated the play for most of the night and didn’t give them much offensively and we could probably have score another couple.
“So it was a huge bounce back game for us. Our issue in the league has been a little bit of consistency, we’re a little bit Jekyll and Hyde in some ways.
“But I challenged the guys pretty hard and they answered.”
So it was a huge bounce back game for us. Our issue in the league has been a little bit of consistency, we’re a little bit Jekyll and Hyde in some ways. But I challenged the guys pretty hard and they answered.Sheffield Steelers’ head coach, Aaron Fox
An early Brendan Connolly goal which saw his shot cannon in off the back of goaltender Shane Owen extended his points streak to 14 games and gave the Steelers a one-goal lead after just 34 seconds.
It was nip and tuck for the remainder of the first and throughout the second and it wasn’t until defenceman David Phillips popped up with his second of the season with a shot that went all the way through traffic at 44.54 that the travelling fans were able to breathe slightly more easy.
Understandably, Belfast risked everything in their attempt to restore parity but, as so often happens their hopes faded further when but Marc-Olivier Vallerand scored an empty-netter at 57.47 to make it 3-0.
To rub salt into the wound, Eric Meland then scored by the same method with just 18 seconds remaining on the clock.
In NIHL National, Leeds Chiefs’ woes continued when they suffered their biggest defeat of the season when going down 9-2 to a rampant Peterborough Phantoms.
Sheffield Steeldogs enjoyed a 2-1 win in overtime at Basingstoke Bison, but Hull Pirates struggled in their 8-4 defeat at second-placed Swindon Wildcats.