Marquardt leads Blaze to victory in Sheffield
A Man of the Match performance from Canadian forward Matt Marquardt lead the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze to a 1-4 victory at the Sheffield Arena, taking Danny Stewart's side up a place to 7th in the race for an Elite League Playoff spot.
With a Challenge Cup final to look forward to tomorrow, Sheffield sat out Andreas Valdix and Colton Fretter whilst the Blaze welcomed back defenceman Kevin Noble who had been missing since early January through injury.
The home side, helped by two early penalties for Coventry started the brighter. Despite putting 20 shots on Brian Stewart in the Blaze net, it was the visitors who took a lead to the locker room after the opening period. Top goal-scorer against the Steelers (5), Marquardt getting his just rewards following a dominant shift, putting home a David Clements rebounded shot for 0-1 at 11.43.
Blaze were forced to kill a third Sheffield powerplay at 27 minutes, with Liam Stewart having a golden opportunity to double Coventry's lead. The puck sneaking through Ervins Mustukovs' pads, Stewart though not able to handle the puck as it bobbled agonisingly wide of the goal.
Just after half-way, the Midlands side were two ahead. Brett Robinson ripping a shot top-corner from a drop-pass by Captain Jordan Pietrus (30.50).
Great Britain International Robert Dowd got Sheffield back into the game, scoring their only goal of the night for 1-2 with just 30 ticks of the clock left before the second intermission (39.30).
Blaze though kept hold of the momentum re-gaining a two goal advantage 57 seconds into the final period (1-3). T.J.Syner with a neat finish, Marquardt providing the assist.
With Dowd and Gui Desbiens sat in the penalty-box, from Robin Bergman's feed, Shawn Boutin then registered his 3rd powerplay goal of the year for 1-4 (43.08). It was Coventry's 7th goal against the Steelers this season with the man advantage, a streak which extends to the last five games.
The goal signalled an end to the night for Mustukovs, replaced in the Sheffield goal by Brit, Brad Day who went on to stop all 6 shots put on him for a final score of 1-4.
Head Coach Danny Stewart said, "I'm very happy with the result and the performance. We knew that even though they have a big game tomorrow that they'd come out skating, and they did. First period they had a couple of powerplay's early and they put us under pressure and Stewy made some good saves. But I thought we cleared second pucks well, they did get a lot of shots but many were from the outside and then the second and third we picked up our pace. That third period, I can't remember in the last couple of months us having as smart and as solid of a period as that."