Elite League: Belfast Giants 2-3 Sheffield Steelers

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Coach Adam Keefe says the Belfast Giants power play let them down

The Sheffield Steelers emerged 3-2 victors over the Belfast Giants in the first game of a weekend double-header between the Elite League challengers.

A Matt Marquardt goal saw the Steelers lead 1-0 after a fiery first period at the SSE Arena on Friday night but Steve Saviano replied for the Giants.

Andreas Jamtin and Mark Matheson goals made it 3-1 to Sheffield.

David Rutherford found the net in the third period but the visitors move above Belfast into second in the table.

The sides will meet again on Saturday at the same venue.

The fierce rivalry between the sides was evident throughout and just one minute into the game, Spiro Goulakos of the Giants dropped the gloves with Sheffield's Colton Fretter.

The two had been at the centre of controversy in a previous meeting between the sides in October, with Fretter eventually serving a six-match ban for a hit on Goulakos, who himself had received two games for other incidents.

After Marquardt opened the scoring in a bad-tempered first period, the Giants responded as Saviano levelled after a Goulakos shot rebounded off the post.

The Steelers moved two goals clear after the second period while the penalties continued to amass, with Goulakos on the receiving end of a big hit from Zack Fitzgerald, for which the Steelers player was given a '5+match' penalty for a check to the head and was thrown out of the game.

Rutherford's goal set up an exciting finish but the hosts were unable to find an equaliser.

In the closing stages, Ryan Martinelli and Eric Neiley exchanged punches as the game came to an end in much the way it started, while Goulakos' hit on Tim Wallace saw him exit proceedings in the closing seconds, soon followed by team-mate Sebastian Sylvestre.

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