Blaze take point on Pride night
Coventry Blaze took a point from the league-leading Sheffield Steelers following a heart-breaking 5-6 overtime loss in a pulsating encounter before a large, loud crowd at the Skydome Arena.
The Blaze, playing in their special Pride jerseys as part of the Elite League’s Pride Weekend, were without suspended forward David Broll. The Steelers minus Anthony DeLuca and Josef Hrabal.
The game got off to the worst possible start for the Blaze when former Skydome favourite Marco Vallerand beat Blaze netminder C.J. Motte after just 21 seconds. But the Blaze battled back and the action was end-to-end before defenceman Dillon Eichstadt drew the Blaze level at 6.57 with a shot from the blue line.
And just over a minute later the Blaze were in front when top-scorer Luke Ferrara beat Tomas Duba in the Steelers net with a great shot for his 24th league goal of the season at 8.02. The first period ended with Coventry leading 2-1.
The second period saw the pace and intensity maintained and both sides continue to create chances. The Steelers drew level through a powerplay goal from man-of-the-match Tanner Eberle at 29.20 after Motte had been called for a tripping penalty on Brendan Connolly as the Steelers forward broke through on goal.
Less than two minutes later the Blaze were back in front when Andrew Johnston scored his 17th league goal of the season at 31.09, after good work by Janne Laakkonen.
The third period saw the Steelers draw level again when Eberle scored his second of the night at 43.29. But Evan Bloodoff put the Blaze back in front at 46.11 with the goal being awarded after a review by the referees. Bloodoff then added his second of the night, and 17th league goal of the season, on the powerplay at 47.50, with assists from Ferrara and Justin Hache.
With Johnston in the penalty box for a slashing penalty, the Steelers pulled the score back to 5-4 with a powerplay goal from Marek Troncinsky at 55.16, the goal being awarded following another review by the referees.
With the game entering the last two minutes the Steelers pulled Duba for the extra skater and the move paid immediate dividends with Lucas Sandstrom firing the puck past Motte from the blue line at 58.44 to make it 5-5.
With regulation time finishing with the game all-square, the game went to overtime and was settled when Nikolai Lemtyugov beat Motte with a great solo effort at 61.39.
Speaking after the game, Blaze head coach Danny Stewart said: “It’s disappointing for everyone involved, but particularly for the players. They left everything out there and they played well. We’ve got to make sure this doesn’t derail us a little bit. It was a tough way to lose a game.”