High-scoring Cup defeat for Blaze
Genting Casino Coventry Blaze came out on the wrong end of a high-scoring game in the Challenge Cup, dropping a valuable two points to the Sheffield Steelers by a score of 9-5 at the Sheffield Arena.
Blaze, without British duo Ashley Tait and Russell Cowley, had defence pair Josh Godfrey and David Clements return after missing playing time last weekend through injury.
The Steelers, with qualification to the quarter-finals of the cup already secure gave British netminder Brad Day his first start of the season, whilst short an import after the departure of their second top-points scorer, Tyler Mosienko earlier this week.
Two early powerplays for Sheffield put Blaze on the back foot, Steelers' Man of the Match Colton Fretter scoring his first of the night on the second attempt at 9.21, poking home a rebound as Levi Nelson created havoc in front of Blaze goalie Brian Stewart.
Coventry were level at 13.46, Jim Jorgensen extending his point-scoring streak against the Steelers to nine games, shooting past Day from the blue-line on the powerplay for 1-1.
Shortly after, following a big collision with Matt Marquardt, Zack Fitzgerald drove to the Blaze net running over Brian Stewart, taking two for interference before two-quick fire Sheffield goals put the visitors down 3-1 to end the first period (Fretter 14.52 & Roy 15.03).
Following the interval, Stewart was replaced in the Blaze net by Brit Renny Marr.
Garrett Klotz opened the scoring in what turned out to be a six goal period making it 3-2 at 23.06, before Liam Stewart tied the game, finishing neatly on the powerplay at 25.48 for 3-3. The assist going to Coventry Man of the Match, Taylor Carnevale, his 3rd on the night and 5th in 4 games since joining the club.
The scores didn't stay level for long though, Levi Nelson putting the home side 4-3 ahead at 27.24, followed by a first goal in Sheffield colours for 16-year-old Liam Kirk for 5-3 at 29.52.
Blaze's top-point scorer Matt Marquardt was then dragged down on his way to net, earning and subsequently scoring a penalty-shot for 5-4 at 33.15.
The middle period scoring was to end with a sixth goal for the Steelers with just 20 seconds remaining, Mike Ratchuk beating a sprawling Renny Marr for 6-4 at 39.40.
A mistake on the powerplay cost Blaze a seventh goal, Luke Ferrara scoring short-handed (47.03), before Jesse Schultz made it 8-4 on a two-on-one break-away at 47.57.
Blaze Captain Jordan Pietrus was to deflect a Marc Cantin shot at 52.37 for 8-5 and Blaze's third powerplay marker of the evening.
Then followed a scrap, after a Marc Cantin hit on the Blaze blue-line, Sheffield's Zack Fitzgerald and Coventry's Garrett Klotz went at it each picking up five minutes for fighting.
Steelers' John Armstrong rounded off the crazy night of scoring, picking a puck out of mid-air at 53.21 for a final score of 9-5, leaving Blaze's Challenge Cup qualification hopes in the balance and with an Elite League game against the same opponents tomorrow at the Skydome Arena (5.15pm).
Head Coach Danny Stewart said: "We got out-worked and out-skated too often tonight. We played scared and we played as individuals. There were way too many mistakes. I need a bounce back from every guy in that room tomorrow night because tonight was unacceptable!"
On the health of number one netminder Brain Stewart, Danny said: "Brian took a bad one tonight and will be assessed in the morning."