Blaze fall short after spirited fightback
A spirited third-period fightback from the Coventry Blaze fell just short as they lost 7-5 to the Sheffield Steelers.
Jordan Hedley, who earlier in the day had been named in the Great Britain squad for the upcoming World Championship in Latvia, started in goal for the Blaze in place of import Shane Owen. The Steelers were unchanged from Tuesday night's game between the two teams, with 19-year-old Curtis Warburton in goal.
Coventry made a bright start and both netminders were called into action early, with the Blaze killing 46 seconds of a five-on-three Steelers powerplay. As the period approached the halfway mark both netminders pulled off excellent saves, with Hedley denying Sondre Olden when he was through on goal and Warburton saving a good chance from Ross Venus.
A period of four-on-four hockey saw the Steelers take the lead when a misplaced pass across the Blaze defensive zone was picked up by Sheffield and found its way to Brendan Connolly, who fired home through the smallest of gaps between Hedley's shoulder and the crossbar at 14.16.
The second period saw the Blaze apply some early pressure on Warburton, who pulled off an excellent point-blank save off Nick Jermain. But the Steelers moved the puck down the ice and Tanner Eberle found the net for his seventh goal of the series with a wraparound effort that eluded Hedley at 21.56.
The Blaze managed to pull a goal back when a cross ice pass from Jermain found Mike Hammond who fired the puck past Warburton at 26.10. But 24 seconds later the Steelers went 3-1 in front. Defenceman Sam Russell lost an edge and, although Hedley made the first save, the rebound fell to Jeremy Beaudry who tapped it home at 26.34.
Just over two minutes later the Steelers went further in front, when a cross ice pass from Jonathan Phillips found Josh Waller, whose shot hit Hedley and looped over him into the net to make it 4-1 at 28.40.
Max Krogdahl then broke up a three-on-one chance for the Steelers. But after he was given a two-minute penalty for tripping, Sheffield made it 5-1 on the powerplay when a misplaced pass from David Clements was picked up by Josef Mikyska who passed across the ice for Eberle to fire home at 36.33.
The Steelers scored early in the third period when Eberle found Liam Kirk, who tapped the puck home from close range to make it 6-1 at 42.55. But the Blaze pulled one back at 45.31 when Mac Howlett scored his first goal of the series, following a good pass from Vanya Antonov, and less than 90 seconds later the Blaze made it 6-3 when Tristan Keck fired home his series-leading 12th goal, from a pass from Hammond, at 46.58.
Steelers defenceman Adrian Saxrud Danielsen was given a two-minute penalty for roughing, and a 10-minute misconduct penalty, immediately after Keck's goal and the Blaze took advantage of the powerplay to make it 6-4 when Sam Duggan tipped a shot from Clements past Warburton at 48.51.
After a fight between Robert Dowd and Max Krogdahl at 50.33, as tempers began to fray, the Blaze pulled Hedley for the extra skater with just over two minutes to go.
Coventry were then given a powerplay, when Josef Hrabal was called for tripping Howlett at 57.49, and pulled within one goal when Hammond fired the puck into the roof of the net from a pass from Nicolai Bryhnisveen at 58.33.
The Blaze pulled Hedley again as they looked for the equaliser, but a misplaced pass in their defensive zone fell to Connolly who fired into the empty net at 59.32 to seal victory, and a four-game sweep, for the Steelers.