Premier Sports were in town as the Steelers headed to the Skydome Arena on Sunday evening to take on the Coventry Blaze in their second league cup fixture of the 21/22 season. The Steelers were looking to keep there regular season unbeaten record alive.
The affair turned into a battle of the netminders between Rok Stojanovic, who returned between the pipes for the Steelers after Brust was rested after his club debut the night before and C J Motte for the Coventry Blaze who played in the AHL only last season and showed his pedigree for the Blaze back in the 19/20 season.
The first and only regular time goal for the Blaze came at 17:13 in the first period when GB defenceman David Clements stepped up on a lay off pass in between the hashmarks with an absolute ripper of a shot that beat Stojanovic who was unsighted by the presence of Keaton Ellerby who was attempting to move his man away from the crease. The Blaze taking a 1-0 lead into the 1st intermission.
There were only penalties to write home about in the 2nd period, but as many as 5 had to be killed off by the men in Orange, but they did so successfully although so many penalties gave them little rhythm to put any decent plays together and pressure Motte who stood up big when called upon.
No goals in the 2nd period and we went into the 2nd intermission still at 1-0 to the Blaze.
The first 15 minutes of the 3rd period was also dominated by penalties with Coventry picking up 3 infringements, but it was to be the 3rd of these which helped get the Steelers back into the game when #15 Broll took his stick up too high on Justin Hodgman, catching him on the nose and drawing blood for a 2+2.
The Steelers would have a shortened penalty opportunity as Deluca broke up the 2+2 with a penalty of his own after a scramble in the crease saw him take a seat for 2 minutes while 4 on 4 play took place.
However, when Deluca returned to the ice, the Steelers took advantage through the impressive defenceman, #5 Daine Todd from the left wing hashmarks who found a good screen on CJ Motte and fired it between pad and glove to tie the game up at 1 goal apiece.
The regular time would end at 1-1 with both teams taking at least 1 point home.
On we went to the coin flip which can be 3 on 3 hockey and a fast paced encounter ensued with chances coming aplenty at each end but again, both netmidners came up big for their respective teams and it was no surprise that neither netminder would be beaten in regular play again which meant the game had to be decided on penalties.
SCORED – Bloodoff was up first for Coventry who found the back of the net beating Stojanovic low. (1-0)
MISSED – DeLuca up first for the Steelers who went across Motte who made the save. (1-0)
MISSED – Ex-Steeler Ferrera was up next who rattled the crossbar. (1-0)
MISSED – Vallerand for the Steelers who had the puck role on him after he had beaten Motte and couldn’t slide it home. (1-0)
MISSED – Laakkonon was then next to be denied by the Steelers netminder. (1-0)
MISSED – Daine Todd then ripped a shot up high, but too high and missed the target. (1-0)
SCORED – Thompson for Blaze with a lovely play beat the Rok meaning the Steelers had to score. (2-0)
SCORED – Up stepped Connolly who went wide left and cut back in to beat Motte high glove side. (2-1)
MISSED – Venus was unable to put the game to bed for the Blaze leaving the door open. (2-1)
SCORED – Armstrong with a beautiful forehand backhand to beat the outstretched Motte! (2-2)
SCORED – Armstrong was then sent back for the sudden death shootout as the teams switched the order and was able to beat Motte again, this time coming in from the right wing but again beating an outstretched Motte with a backhand. (2-3)
MISSED – Bloodoff was the entrusted man for the Blaze but the Rok shut the door! (2-3)
The Steelers with a real gritty road victory will have been more than happy to take the 2 points back to Sheffield and remain unbeaten in the regular season.
There was no other choice for man of the match, Rok Stojanovic who stopped 37 of the 38 shots he faced for a save percentage of 97.37%. A shoutout also has to go to Blaze goalie C J Motte who also stopped 30 out of 31 shots faced for a save percentage of 96.77%.
We are next in action next Saturday, back at the Utilita Sheffield Arena against the Guilford Flames. Face off 7pm. See you there Sheffield!
[photos courtesy of Coventry Blaze]