The Genting Casino Coventry Blaze picked up a hard-fought point on the road to begin their 2023/24 Elite League campaign against the Sheffield Steelers at Sheffield Arena.
Taran Kozun started in net for Coventry with Matthew Greenfield at the opposite end and both were forced into action early.
Kozun’s first major save came on Steelers’ match winner Patrick Watling but it was Greenfield who was tested more heavily being forced to deny Coventry’s Kobe Roth on a breakaway at the ten-minute mark.
It took until 22.33 for either goalie to be beaten and it was Kozun who suffered the first disappointment as Colton Saucerman’s powerplay effort from the blue line found the back of the Coventry goalie’s net.
Blaze tied the game on their opening powerplay chance with Swede Kim Tallberg scoring from in-close from Ian McNulty and Blake Thompson at 32.14.
The momentum continued for Coventry as they had another powerplay opportunity straight after and although they didn’t score on that, they were able to make it 1-2 less than a minute later.
Former Steeler Danny Kristo found space and his feed was finished by J.D. Dudek at 35.13 with Greenfield clearly frustrated that the shot found a way through his pads.
At the other end, Kozun continued to give his side confidence calmly pulling off several stops to give the visitors a one goal lead after 40 minutes.
Sheffield came out strong in the third period and found an equaliser at 51.24 when Mitchell Balmas’ quick shot found the top corner for 2-2.
Blaze had to dig deep in the final minutes, successfully killing a five-plus-game major penalty to defenceman Blake Thompson for boarding to earn a point.
In overtime Watling was the eventual hero, charging towards 36-save Kozun’s net and beating the Blaze keeper from close range to give the Steelers a 3-2 home win on opening night.
Photo credit: Dean Woolley