Giants belittled by Lipsett's hat-trick

Ice Hockey: Sheffield Steelers 8 Belfast Giants 1
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The Independent Online

The Sheffield Steelers have a habit of bringing the Belfast Giants down to earth and at the Arena on Sunday they turned the form book around to romp to a 8-1 victory over the Sekonda Superleague leaders.

Last season's champions had only won one of their last five league games, but were inspired by a hat-trick from Chris Lipsett that completed a miserable weekend for the Giants.

Last season, Sheffield belittled Belfast 7-0 in the semi-finals en route to winning the Challenge Cup. This season has not seen Sheffield hit that kind of form as they labour near the bottom of the Superleague table. However, Mike Blaisdell's team proved just how good they can be with a performance that compounded Belfast's 3-2 defeat at Nottingham on Saturday night.

Lipsett's three goals and a pair of assists, on a line with Kevin Miehm and Scott Allison that had a 10-point night, gave the Steelers their biggest victory of the year in their best performance. It was all a far cry from Friday night's disappointing 1-0 defeat at home against Ayr.

Sheffield's onslaught began early when Lipsett opened the scoring in a powerplay with a cross-ice shot from a feed by Jason Mansoff in the third minute. From there, Belfast fell to pieces as Sheffield sprinted into an eight-goal lead by the middle of the third period. Kevin Riehl's consolation strike in a powerplay with five minutes remaining only served to spare the Giants the ignominy of being shutout.

For Sheffield's coach, Blaisdell, it was a welcome return to form. "The Ayr game was a game where they got a good performance from their goaltender," Blaisdell said. "I don't think that the Belfast goalies played their strongest games tonight."

Sunday was also a good night for the Bracknell Bees, who beat the Nottingham Panthers 5-2 to stay in third place in the Superleague. The in-form striker Mark Cardotte scored two to go with his hat-trick against the London Knights on Thursday. He was joined on the scoresheet by Todd Goodwin, Dan Ceman and Sam Ftorek.

Patrik Wallenberg and AJ Kelham had twice pulled Nottingham level before they lost for the 10th successive time at the Bee Hive.