Battling Blaze performance ends in OT defeat
A short-benched Genting Casino Coventry Blaze team came out on the wrong end of a 3-4 overtime score-line against the Elite League title chasing Sheffield Steelers at the Skydome Arena.
Steelers’ Swedish forward Andreas Valdix, who was to later score a dramatic game-winning goal opened the scoring at 12.14 finishing a cross-ice pass from John Armstrong for 1-0.
Following penalties to Sheffield's Yared Hagos and Jonathan Phillips, Matt Marquardt tied the game 5-on-3 (16.03).
Liam Stewart followed up on the proceeding 5-on-4 with a further marker for 2-1 just 17 seconds later (16.20).
The Yorkshire side picked up their physical game in the second period. Zack Fitzgerald with a huge open ice hit on Robin Bergman, narrowly missing a second on T.J Syner.
There was though just the one goal in the middle 20 minutes, Christoffer Bjorklund ripping a puck past Coventry goalie Brian Stewart for 2-2 (23.50).
Already three import defencemen down, Blaze lost another at 45.44 as Shawn Boutin was assessed a 2+10 checking from behind penalty. The minor penalty killed with Ross Venus and Liam Stewart particularly putting their bodies on the line to keep the Steelers at bay.
The final import from the Blaze D core, Marc Cantin was then sent to the box by referee Stefan Hogarth, 2+10 checking to the head at 48.32. The Coventry killers, backed by a huge vocal support from the home crowd held strong to kill the penalty again.
Blaze got a penalty of their own at 53.02, Valdix sent to the box for holding. The Skydome roof was lifted off as Marquardt hit home his second powerplay goal of the night at 53.21 for 3-2.
With tensions and the atmosphere raised, Liam Stewart dropped the gloves with Jace Coyle who subsequently picked up a 5 + Match penalty for checking to the head of Coventry’s Ross Venus.
After the penalties were sorted, Sheffield found the equaliser, Ben O'Connor grabbing his third of the weekend for 3-3 at 57.10.
Into 3-on-3 overtime, Marc Cantin came agonisingly close to winning it, rounding the net, with Ervins Mustukovs beat, the puck sat on the line, the Blaze man millimetres from being able to tap home.
Shortly after, a rebound shot from O'Connor led to the game-winning-goal for Sheffield. Valdix with his second for a final score of 3-4, 3.48 into the additional five minute period.
Head Coach Danny Stewart said, “I couldn’t ask for anymore from my players. It was a hell of an effort. Did we deserve more than a point from this weekend? Absolutely, no question in my mind but that’s out of our control right now. We just have to focus on how we performed. If there was ever a weekend to unite a group this would be it, because we had everything that could possibly happen thrown our way and we dealt with it and we just kept going.”
HC Danny Stewart
#16 Jordan Pietrus
#23 Brett Robinson