Sunday 17 December 2017

Sheffield Steelers shut out Belfast to book play-off final date with Cardiff

Sheffield Steelers forward Levi Nelson celebrates his goal against Belfast Giants (Dean Woolley)
Sheffield Steelers forward Levi Nelson celebrates his goal against Belfast Giants (Dean Woolley)

Sheffield Steelers will meet Cardiff Devils in Sunday's Elite League play-off final after a 2-0 win over Belfast Giants at the National Ice Centre.

Steelers, beaten by Devils in the Challenge Cup final earlier this year, got the go-ahead goal at 4.15 when a blast from Guillaume Desbiens was too good for Giants goaltender Stephen Murphy.

Giants found Steelers netminder Ervins Mustukovs in solid form but they missed an excellent chance to level when Mike Forney blasted high and wide.

Mustukovs continued to be a rock for Steelers, denying David Rutherford and Blair Riley before the former squandered a glorious opportunity to make it 1-1 when he failed to convert a half-open net five minutes from time.

That miss proved costly when, after Giants pulled Murphy in a last-ditch attempt to force overtime, Levi Nelson tapped into an empty net on the powerplay to seal the win with 25 seconds remaining.

Mustukovs, the league's leading goalie this season, ended with a 31-save shut-out.

Earlier, Devils produced a fantastic fightback to beat Dundee Stars 4-2 and keep alive their Grand Slam bid.

With the Challenge Cup, Erhardt Conference and Elite League trophies already claimed, Devils' hopes of completing a clean sweep seemed to be in danger when they trailed 2-0 at the end of the first period.

However, Andrew Lord's side reeled off four unanswered goals to book their place in Sunday's final.

Kevin Hart put Stars in the lead at 12.29 with a blast from range before Brett Switzer added a second at 18.13 after a great pass from Vinny Scarsella.

Devils pulled a goal back at 26.57 with a composed finish from Joey Haddad with Mark Louis tying the game up at 43.40, converting the loose puck.

Joey Martin's effort on the rebound handed Devils the lead for the first time at 51.27 and, after killing a late penalty, Andrew Hotham wrapped up the win with a empty-net marker 10 seconds from time.

Dundee and Belfast will now contest the third v fourth-placed play-off on Sunday lunchtime.

Press Association

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