ICE HOCKEY: A VITAL two points were picked up by Coventry Blaze on Saturday night as they defeated Elite League title challengers Sheffield Steelers 4-1 on the road.
It was the first time Danny Stewart’s men had defeated the Steelers this season, and prompted praise across social media from fans as the Blaze took another big step towards their goal of securing an end-of-season playoff spot.
Blaze have moved up into seventh position in the league, though both Dundee and Manchester below them have two games in hand – with Dundee a point behind Coventry while Manchester sit two points short.
The three sides are scrapping over the two final playoff positions, and Blaze face a crucial game this weekend against Fife Flyers at the Skydome on Saturday night (7pm).
Saturday’s timely win came as a huge boost to Stewart’s men who – with a win on Saturday – could move to within two points of sixth placed Fife.
Matt Marquardt put the Blaze ahead after 11 minutes when putting home an effort from David Clements’ rebounded shot.
Brett Robinson doubled Coventry’s lead mid-way through the second period before Team GB skater Robert Dowd brought the Steelers back into the game shortly before the end of the second period.
TJ Syner provided a smart finish just 57 seconds into the third period though when getting on the end of a Marquardt pass.
A five on three powerplay opportunity for the Blaze wrapped up the game when Shawn Boutin came under little pressure inside the Steelers’ zone and hit a shot past goalie Mustukovs.
Head coach Danny Stewart said: “I’m very happy with the result and the performance.
“Even though Sheffield had the Challenge Cup to think about on Sunday we knew they’d come out skating, and they did.
“First period they had a couple of powerplays early and they put us under pressure.
“I thought we cleared second pucks well, they did get a lot of shots but many were from the outside and then the second and third we picked up our pace.
“That third period, I can’t remember in the last couple of months us having as smart and as solid of a period as that.”