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  Monday, 2 December, 2002, 14:26 GMT
Double blow for Belfast
BBC Sport Online's Stuart Hughes

Belfast Giants missed two chances to close the gap at the top of the Ice Hockey Superleague over the weekend.

Instead, the Northern Ireland franchise slipped to third, losing back-to-back games against league leaders Sheffield Steelers and Nottingham Panthers.

A pair of goals in the second period lifted Panthers to a 2-0 victory over Belfast at the National Ice Centre on Sunday.

Jason Elders scored 1:25 into the middle session. John Purves turned in a rebound in front of the goalmouth on the powerplay at 30:38.

Nottingham goalie Mika Pietila turned aside 35 shots for the shutout.

It was Belfast's second shutout of the weekend. Twenty-four hours earlier a late strike from Rick Brebant gave Sheffield Steelers a 1-0 victory over Giants.

Belfast Giants manager Dave Whistle
Belfast Giants coach Dave Whistle looks on
Brebant broke the deadlock by beating Mark Cavallin with just over two minutes remaining.

Sheffield goalie Joel Laing recorded his second successive clean sheet, making 25 saves.

In Saturday's other Superleague game, London Knights fought back from 2-0 down to beat Bracknell Bees 4-3.

Dan Ceman and Joe Ciccarello (powerplay) put Bracknell in control in the first period.

Kim Ahlroos and Corey Spring traded goals early in the second period before Jeff Hoad cut the deficit to a single goal on the powerplay at 38:35.

London shone in the final session. Mark Kolesar's short-handed goal was followed by a game-winning strike from Steve Aronson - his first for the club - in the 52nd minute.

Meanwhile, Bracknell Bees are planning to leave the Superleague and join the Findus British National League next season.

Under the current league set-up, the move would leave the ISL with just four operating teams.

Bees owner John Nike is to give more details of his plans in the next few days.


ICE HOCKEY SUPERLEAGUE
Team P W D OTL L ForAg Pts
Sheffield Steelers 16 10 3 0 3 40 23 23
Nottingham Panthers 15 7 2 0 6 45 42 16
Belfast Giants 14 6 2 1 5 45 35 15
London Knights 15 5 4 0 6 34 36 14
Bracknell Bees 16 3 3 1 9 41 69 10

See also:

02 Dec 02 | N Ireland
21 Nov 02 | Other Sports
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