Belfast 1-2 Sheffield

The Belfast Giants suffered a shoot-out defeat by champions Sheffield in Saturday's season-opening Elite League clash at the Odyssey Arena.

Matt Stephenson put the Steelers ahead with an early powerplay goal in front of an attendance of 3,308 spectators.

Mark Garside levelled for the Giants midway through the final peiod.

Over-time failed to produce any more goals and shoot-out strikes from Mike Ramsay and Steve Birnstill ensured victory for the visitors.

Jeff Mason and summer signing Derek LeBlanc were off-target for the Giants in the shoot-out.

Both netminders Stephen Murphy and John DeCaro made fine early saves before Stephenson put the Steelers ahead after LeBlanc had been hit with a two-minute penalty for holding.

Neither team could manage a goal in a second-period littered with penalties.

The Giants had a two-man powerplay at one stage but could not get past DeCaro.

Garside levelled at 10.29 in the final period before both teams drew a blank in over-time.

DeCaro saved Mason's shoot-out effort and LeBlanc's miss gave Birnstill the opportunity to secure the extra second point for the Steelers.

Giants coach Doug Christiansen signed 13 new players for the new campaign.

Belfast have missed out on the title by a single point in both the last two seasons.

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