Steelers beat Blaze

The Genting Casino Coventry Blaze were beaten 4-1 by the Elite League leading Sheffield Steelers at Utilita Arena on Sunday.

Canadian forward Tyler Kirkup returned to the Blaze line-up with American Aidan Spellacy missing out. The Steelers welcomed back 6’5” centreman Mark Simpson who has been absent for the past couple of weeks through injury with Zach Vinnell their healthy scratch.

Sheffield’s special teams were the difference in the game, and they used their powerplay to take a 0-1 lead through Mitchell Balmas at 3.38.

After the opening goal, neither team were able to generate much offence in the remaining minutes of the first as each side did well to keep each other to the outside.

The second goal of the game came early in the second period when Colton Saucerman floated a puck in from the blue-line and Mikko Juusola was able to tip it past Blaze goalie Taran Kozun at 20.45.

Just ahead of the half-way mark, the Steelers found themselves in penalty trouble and with Saucerman and Captain Robert Dowd in the box, Blaze took advantage of the 5-on-3 opportunity with Blake Thompson scoring past the inspire Matt Greenfield at 30.42.

Further minor penalties followed for both sides, and it was Marco Vallerand who was to punish the Blaze for two late infractions in the second, scoring 4-on-3 to make it 3-1 at 39.28.

With Coventry on the powerplay, Sheffield extended their lead to 4-1 while shorthanded. Brett Neumann scoring from Vallerand at 45.05.

Tensions rose in the final ten minutes with each side called for boarding penalties, and then on the final shot of the game Vallerand thought he had scored, only for his effort to be ruled out following a coach’s challenge as it entered the net milliseconds after the final buzzer.

Blaze remain fifth in the Elite League table following the weekend’s fixtures, while the Steelers end the round of fixtures 12 points ahead at the top of the table.

Photo credit: Dean Woolley