Thornton refuses to give up on Grand Slam dreams
BELFAST GIANTS head coach Steve Thornton is refusing to give up on the Grand Slam - despite watching his side slip to a 2-1 home defeat against the Sheffield Steelers in the Elite League.
The Giants still have two cup semi finals to come and the end of season play-offs but their hopes of landing a first Elite League crown since 2006 were dented on Wednesday as Sheffield extended their lead at the top to nine points with this priceless win.
Bobby Robins opened the scoring for the home side before Brad Cruikshank equalised and Ryan Finnerty sealed the win late on to move Sheffield ten points clear of Belfast.
But despite having a mountain to climb in the league Thornton insists his side won't give up in their pursuit for honours, he said: "We are still going for four trophies, it's not going to be straightforward after losing this game, but we're still a good team.
"As far as the league is concerned now we're going to have to start relying on other teams to beat these guys and at the same time win our own games.
"That's the hardest pill to swallow after this game.
"I said the last time that Sheffield beat us here that it was the toughest defeat of the season and it's even tougher this time.
"When you are 1-0 up going into the third period at home you have to find a way to win the game.
"We didn't and Sheffield have found a way to squeeze out wins from tight games all season."
The Giants battered Jody Lehman's goal, with 15 shots in each of the first two periods, but only found the net on one occasion with Robins opening the scoring three minutes into the second period.
Although one goal is rarely enough, the Giants looked under little pressure in the second period and they entered the final 20 minutes with hope of getting the win that would close the gap at the top of the table.
But Cruikshank levelled the scores five minutes into the final period, with Stevie Lyle failing to get his hand behind the shot as the puck squeezed into the top corner of the net.
Just when overtime loomed, with the Giants looking for a winner that would deny Sheffield even a losing point, David Phillips was sent to the penalty box and Finnerty grabbed the powerplay winner.