Sheffield Steelers had defenceman Drew Fata to thank in overtime as they ended the 2013-14 Elite League season as Playoff Champions, 3-2, over the Belfast Giants on Sunday.
Tied at 2-2 after regulation, Fata struck only 1.34 into the extra period past Belfast goalie Stephen Murphy to give his side the victory.
It was a fast start by both sides with few stoppages with end to end action on show for fans at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham. Darryl Lloyd went close twice for Giants and Stefan Meyer for Steelers, but the best chance in the period saw Chris Higgins miss the target in the 11th minute when Giants broke two-on-one.
Moments later, Robert Dowd almost opened the scoring for the Steelers, before the game almost swung in the Giants’ favour but for a wonderful save from Frank Doyle.
The four goals shared during the second period still left the crowd unsure as to who would be taking the Playoff title home.
Thirty seconds in, Giants were forced to kill off a tripping call on Dustin Whitecotton with Murphy making smart saves from Fata and Meyer. Giants then went on the powerplay themselves with Tim Spencer binned for tripping and took full advantage as Cody Brookwell’s eventually found its way in to the net after being deflected at 24.24.
An interference call on Evan Cheverie was killed off by Giants but at 27.36 Phil Hill levelled up from close range. Giants regained the lead at 29.48 when Colin Shields stabbed home from the edge of the crease but the Steelers did not let the pressure get to them, with a dominant spell resulting in Chad Langlais firing past Murphy at 37.25 from close, it was game on again.
Higgins was given a tripping call at the buzzer, resulting in the Steelers starting the third period on the powerplay.
The man advantage for the Steelers did not garner much success in a period played out knowing that so much was on the line. Evan Cheverie went close twice for Giants and Dowd was denied by a spectacular Murphy glove save with chances at both ends.
Both sides had claims to win it with the puck scrambling past the goal frame in the latter stages but regulation could not split the teams and it went to the 4-on-4 sudden death overtime session ending with Fata stepping up as the Steelers hero.
- Braehead Clan edged the valiant Fife Flyers for third spot thanks to Ed McGrane’s winning strike in overtime in a goal-laden encounter between the two Scottish sides prior to the showpiece finale.