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Giants seal Elite League prize with Sheffield joy

The Belfast Giants were crowned Elite League champions last night after dramatic shootout against the Sheffield Steelers at the Utilita Arena thanks to a superb penalty shot from Scott Conway.

The Giants added the Elite League cup to the Challenge Cup which they had won last month as the SSE Arena against the Cardiff Devils, and they have also secured their placed in the European Champions Hockey League (CHL), for the second time later this year.

Earlier in the weekend the Giants had secured a 3-1 victory against the Steelers setting up the second game in the double header and leaving the Sheffield needing to beat the Giants to keep themselves in contention.

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The Giants got themselves off to a flying start in the opening period when Mark Cooper scored on the powerplay after 92 seconds, with assists from Scott Conway and JJ Piccinich.

The Belfast Giants celebrate after clinching the Elite League championship after defeating the Sheffield Steelers in a dramatic shootout in Sheffield on Sunday. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Meanwhile, later in the period goalie Tyler Beskorowany kept the Giants ahead later in the period with a diving save in the dying seconds of the period.

The second period saw the Steelers dominate. They got themselves back on to level terms 38 seconds into thanks to Tanner Eberle, with assists to John Armstrong and David Phillips.

The scores stayed level thanks to the efforts of Steelers’ goal Rok Stojanovic.

The final period proved to be a nail-biting affair for both Giants’ and Steelers’ fans, with the Steelers pushing for the win and the Giants focus on the championship.

Belfast Giants' captain David Goodwin presents the the Elite League to the travelling Belfast fans at the end of a dramatic weekend in Sheffield which saw the Giants clinch the Elite League championship after defeating the Steelers in a shootout in on Sunday. Picture: Dean Woolley.

The best chance of period came inside the final two minutes when Steelers’ Marc-Oliver Vallerand stormed Beskorowany’s goal and was unable to convert.

After review by the officials the chance was ruled not to be a goal and the teams played down to overtime.

Into overtime both teams had their chances to win the game but failed to capitalise on their chances.

In the shootout no goals were scored in the opening five shots.

Belfast Giants' Ben Lake in action against the Sheffield Steelers. The Giants clinched the Elite League championship after defeating the Sheffield Steelers in a dramatic shootout in Sheffield on Sunday. Picture: Dean Woolley.

After Armstrong saw his shot gloved by Beskorowany it fell to Conway who made to sure put the puck past Stojanovic and crown Belfast as champions.

Speaking after being crowned champions a delighted coach Adam Keefe said: “The crazy thing about this league is that you never know how it might end.

“We have ended seasons in all sorts of ways in the past. But this one here in Sheffield is extra special.

“It was bit of a weird game when we went into the shootout but Besko was solid for us all through the game and he was solid again in the shootout too and we won it with a big goal from Conway.”

The puck flies over the glove of the Belfast Giants goalie Tyler Beskowarany during the dramatic game against the Sheffield Steelers which saw the Giants clinch the Elite League championship. Picture: Dean Woolley

Keefe was full of praise for his championship winning side, he said: “It feels absolutely amazing. These guys have all year long they have done what we have asked them to do.

“They have grinded hard early on in the season when we had to deal with injuries, they just kept going and guys stepped up with no questions asked.”

Reflecting on the challenge that faced the Giants going into the double header in Sheffield Keefe said: “We knew that it was not going to be easy this weekend as they have a really good team in the Sheffield Steelers, I am sure that we will see these guys again down the line.

“But these guys deserve this championship, they are a group of great people. When you have people like that good things will happen.”