The Stena Line Belfast Giants had a lot riding on them when they took on rivals Sheffield Steelers on the road tonight. Both teams are tight in the Viaplay Elite Ice Hockey League title race, with every game counting in the final weeks of league action.

The Giants came out as the stronger team, with a 4-0 win against the Steelers at home thanks to a goal and two assists from Canadian Matt McLeod, and another shutout from Tyler “Besko” Beskorowany.


It was a quiet start in Sheffield as both teams played it safe in the first five minutes. The opening of the game was marked with several cherry calls both ways and easy saves for both Besko in the Belfast Giants net and Matthew Greenfield I Sheffield.

Despite the quiet start, the Belfast Giants defensemen excelled at both ends of the ice. Both Sam Ruopp and Gabe Bast, the team’s highest-scoring d-man, drove the puck hard into the offensive zone in an attempt to create scoring chances. Similarly, on the defensive front, defensemen were consistently on puck first, including clearing a rebound after an impressive save by Besko eight minutes later.

At half time, the first penalty of the game was awarded to Mark Cooper for tripping. Once again a strong defensive effort led to the penalty which was quickly followed by a Sheffield penalty when Robert Dowd was sent off for hooking the Giants’ Steve Owre.

The Giants’ power play marked the most exciting couple of minutes of play in the first, as the Sheffield Steelers found themselves in a 3-on-0 closeout against Besko, only for the Giants to use momentum to return the same pressure. Greenfield with a 2 to 1 chance upside down. Both goalkeepers held their ground, but it was only a matter of time until a goal slipped through.

Matt McLeod capitalized on that same power play moments later, wriggling the loose puck on five holes after Ben Lake’s attempt on a Will Cullen pass. (0-1)

This energized the team for the final five minutes of the first, with the speed of the game picking up at both ends until the horn blew.


The Belfast Giants went flying in the second, giving their opponents no time or room to breathe for the start of the period. The visiting team showed their passing this time, with the lines of the three Giants creating beautiful chances thanks to tape-to-tape passes. Greenfield continued his big efforts early on, as he was denied many of these opportunities.

The Giants were doing everything right, but couldn’t seem to get a shot past the Steelers’ goalie despite being faster and stronger with the puck. The pressure eventually paid off as some classy passes from Ciaran Long and McLeod set up Ben Lake to find the top corner on the blocker’s side. (0-2)

The Steelers eventually gained a bit of momentum in the second half of the period when Will Cullen was sent to the penalty area for interference. Besko relied on the net, stopping every shot that came his way just in time for Will Cullen to come flying out of the box on offense. Greenfield ran his bag through the crease to deny the Giants’ d-man, as he did for the rest of the period.

With just over a minute to go, the Belfast Giants found themselves on the power play thanks to a delay of game penalty from Steelers’ Matthew Petgrave. The power play would be split between the second and third periods, with Greenfield keeping Sheffield’s net clear for the first half of their penalty kick.


The Steelers were able to kill the second half of Petgrave’s delay in the game call, and he came out of the box just in time to take a quick shot at Besko, but was unable to find the back of the net beyond the 6’4” Giant.

The power play only enhanced the Giants’ energy in the third period. The Giants offense fired A-grade shots over Greenfield, but the goaltender continued to keep his team in the game.

The pressure led to the Steelers’ Vallerand making a poor decision against Ciaran Long. The penalty wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Steelers as they had a great partial breakaway chance on Besko, who remained a brick wall in the Giants’ net.

After killing the roughing penalty, Vallerand came out only to end up thrown out of the game moments later by a high elbow to the head from Grant Cooper. The play was called for a check to the head, sending the Steeler to the locker room and the Belfast Giants on the power play once more, this time for five minutes.

Grant Cooper was called out just under a minute later for hooking to lead to a 4-on-4 hockey game, which remained scoreless. The Giants had two minutes left on Vallerand’s power play and they made sure to make it count. Gabe Bast’s rocket from the blue line was targeted in the final minute by league leader Scott Conway to put the Giants up by three with just 10 minutes left in the game. (0-3)

The Steelers retaliated when Brandon McNally was called out for interfering on Ruopp. McNally tried his best to square off with Ruopp but was stopped by Long, causing him to retaliate further. This prompted the Steelers forward to take a 10-minute game misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct. He joined Vallerand in the locker room and the Giants returned to the power play, this time unable to get past Greenfield.

The Giants played the rest of the game safely protecting the defensive zone. With over a minute to play, the Steelers pulled Greenfield in an attempt to break Besko’s shutout but were unsuccessful. Instead, Mark Cooper sealed the deal for the Belfast Giants with an empty net goal. (4-0)


The Stena Line Belfast Giants take on the Manchester Storm on Sunday in more Viaplay Elite Ice Hockey Leage action, then return home on St Patrick’s Day bank holiday weekend for a big Cardiff Devils doubleheader. Tickets are on sale HERE!


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