Steelers remain top with victory over Blaze
Three powerplay goals were not enough to save the Coventry Blaze from a 5-3 defeat by the Sheffield Steelers in a top of the table Elite Series clash on Tuesday night.
The Blaze, playing in their ninth game of the series welcomed back import Shane Owen in goal, after resting him for the last game against the Panthers, but were otherwise unchanged. The Steelers started 19-year-old Brit Curtis Warburton between the pipes for a second straight game.
After Tanner Eberle was called for cross-checking on Luke Ferrara after just 51 seconds, the Blaze took the lead with a powerplay goal. A shot from the point from Nicolai Bryhnisveen rebounded to Mike Hammond, who took the puck round the net before passing to Tristan Keck in front who fired home his series leading tenth goal at 2.12.
The Steelers came back strongly, applying a lot of offensive pressure, and found themselves on a powerplay after a superb solo effort by Josh Waller saw Bryhnisveen called for slashing. With Nick Jermain joining him in the penalty box for high sticking, the Steelers took advantage of the five-on-three when Brendan Connolly scored at 9.50, with the puck deflecting in off Owen.
Sheffield continued to enjoy the majority of the offensive pressure and came close to scoring in the final few seconds of the period.
The second period saw Sheffield continue to dominate possession and create the better chances, and their pressure finally paid off when a shot from Kevin Schulze was deflected past Owen and into the net by Matthew Myers at 32.18. And just over 90 seconds later Sheffield went 3-1 in front when Connolly picked up the puck after Bryhnisveen lost an edge and fired high past Owen at 33.49.
As the period ended, the Blaze went on the powerplay after Connolly was called for interference at 39.11 and created a number of chances, with Luke Ferrara hitting the bar in the final few seconds.
The Blaze began the third period on a five-on-three powerplay, after Eberle was called for slashing at the end of the second, and made the two-man advantage count almost immediately when Janne Laakkonen squeezed the puck past the netminder at 40.23.
Coventry then had a golden opportunity to draw level when they got a full two-minute five-on-three powerplay, after Connolly and Robert Dowd were called for penalties, but they couldn't find a way past Warburton.
Sheffield increased their lead when Connolly broke away and found Liam Kirk for a delayed penalty goal at 47.24 and, despite Owen's best efforts, made it 5-2 when Dowd fired home from a pass from Connolly at 51.49.
With Connolly back in the penalty box, the Blaze scored their third powerplay goal of the night when Keck picked up a rebound off Warburton from a shot from Laakkonen and scored his 11th goal of the series at 58.16, the goal finally awarded after a double review.
Coventry then pulled Owen for the extra skater but struggled to test Warburton as the Steelers picked up the two points to remain at the top of the Elite Series table.
Head Coach Danny Stewart said: "Special teams were really good for us again but five-on-five, our puck management continues to be an issue. We're trying to drill it into guys to play more north, and get pucks in behind, we're forcing plays and giving the puck away which gives them extended zone time and they are too good to do that against."
The Blaze and Steelers meet again on Thursday in the Elite Series at 7pm live on eliteleague.tv