Cup Semi-Final preview

The Genting Casino Coventry Blaze and Sheffield Steelers meet in the 2024 Challenge Cup Semi Final.

The first-leg will be at Skydome Arena tonight (Wednesday 24th January) with a 7.30pm face-off.

Call 02476630693 or visit the Skydome Arena Box Office.

If you are a Blaze Season Ticket holder and want to purchase your Season Ticket seats please see the ticketing information, HERE.

AWAY SEATING: Sheffield fans, please purchase tickets in Block 7.

A week later, the second-leg will take place at Utilita Arena in Sheffield with a 7.30pm puck-drop.

Blaze fans will be in Block 202 and tickets can be purchased via the link below.

Both games will also be streamed live online via Blaze TV and Sheffield TV respectively.

An aggregate score will decide who progresses to the Grand Final which will be held in March.

Sheffield come into the tie as the top seed remaining in the competition after Coventry knocked out the Belfast Giants at the quarter-final stage.

The Steelers finished top of their qualifying group after winning all six games. Blaze were third, earning progression through having a winning-percentage higher than Dundee Stars who were eliminated from the competition.

Coventry’s victory over Belfast in the quarter-finals was a historic one, coming back from 4-0 down in the third period (1-5 on aggregate) to win the second-leg and eliminate the reigning Cup Champions on their home ice via a penalty shoot-out.

The Steelers had no such drama, breezing past the Manchester Storm 10-2 over the two quarter-final legs.

Sheffield’s Marco Vallerand (six goals, seven assists), Mitchell Balmas (four goals, nine assists) and Patrick Watling (three goals, ten assists) lead the Challenge Cup competition for points (all 13).

Coventry’s top point scorer in the Cup is Ian McNulty who has four goals, four assists for eight points.

Anthony Morrone has been the Steelers’ regular Cup starter, playing seven times with an impressive 94.59 save-percentage and 1.58 goals-against-average. Matthew Greenfield is the bona-fide Steelers number one in league play and it’ll be interesting to see who coach Aaron Fox calls upon for the semi-finals.

Taran Kozun is the likely starter in net for Blaze having recorded an excellent 92.66 save-percentage and 2.60 goals-against-average in eight competition games.

Coventry have won the Challenge Cup twice (2005, 2007) and the Steelers once (2020). The competition hasn’t been too kind to the Blaze in more recent years, and the Semi-Final is their first since 2015.

Sheffield made the Semi-Finals just last season, but suffered a shock defeat against the Fife Flyers, who eventually lost to the Giants in the Final.

The Steelers’ powerplay has been on fire in Cup competition, scoring on 41.18% of their chances on the man advantage. Blaze’s powerplay is at 20%. Sheffield penalty-kill sits at 86.96% and Coventry’s 77.78%.

Both teams enter the Semi-Final high in confidence, the Blaze having won seven of their past eight games and the Steelers flying high at the top of the Elite League and before losing their perfect away record to Fife Flyers on Saturday, were on a 14-game winning streak in all competitions.

The other Semi-Final in the competition features the Glasgow Clan and Guildford Flames who fought out a 0-0 tie in their first-leg encounter.

HC Danny Stewart

Blaze Head Coach Danny Stewart was on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire’s Sport at 6 show on Tuesday to look ahead to the Semi-Final.