Sheffield Steelers 6 Coventry Blaze 3 - weekend double strengthens title charge

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Sunshine illuminated Sheffield Arena as fans arrived for the game. Spring is in the air - and so is the alluring fragrance of another League title.

Steelers need to end the season one point ahead of their main rivals Cardiff Devils - who sneaked a Sunday night overtime win.

Ben O Connor and Jace Coyle - Sheffield Steelers v Coventry Blaze 13/03/16

Ben O Connor and Jace Coyle - Sheffield Steelers v Coventry Blaze 13/03/16

All Paul Thompson’s men can do is win their remaining two games against Nottingham and Fife - and hope Devils slip up. All eyes will switch to Belfast Giants rink on Wednesday, when the Northern Irish finish their current three-game series with the Welsh. It will be a league-defining match.

On Sunday, Coventry were fortunate to go into the first break just 3-1 down - it could have been much more against the home side’s four lines. A smart Power Play move saw the slick Jace Coyle hammer the puck goalwards and Roy do the rest.

Then two exquisite goals followed from the stick of Ben O’Connor, smashing long-range efforts past Brian Stewart from the left flank.

Stewart has confounded Sheffield at times this season, but he was rattled, especially with d-men like David Clements getting the run around and making mistakes.

Jason Hewittin action for  Sheffield Steelers v Coventry Blaze 13/03/16

Jason Hewittin action for Sheffield Steelers v Coventry Blaze 13/03/16

Play offs-chasing Blaze were being pressed so hard they rarely got forwards up in any number, but they gave themselves hope when Ashley Tait scored against his old club at 18;56.

Sheffield, with Levi Nelson unstoppable at times on the wings, deserved a fourth, which came when Fredrik Vestberg wheeled around the goal and put the puck on Luke Ferrara’s stick.

But the champions couldn’t shake Blaze off. Zack Fitzgerald, annoyed at refereeing calls, became a one-man wrecking ball and it was only a matter of time before he was penalised. On the PP Jordan Pietrus scored for 4-2, at 30;47.

When Chris Burton closed the gap to one goal at 42;36, Steelers had a brief period under siege with Drew Fisher, Brenden Walker and Kevin Noble all threatening. But Jeff Legue’s reply brought added composure and the game was made safe when Mosienko added a sixth.

On Saturday, Steelers had silenced the sell-out NIC with a super-efficient win built on teamwork and character. Legue’s cool finish from Nelson put the visitors ahead at 5;58 before Roy effectively won the game with two goals at 25;39 and 31;55, the first one a rocket of a shot.

Steelers knew they had to defend, and there were some brave spectacles as forwards and d-men threw themselves at shots.

Guillaume Desbiens blocked two hefty efforts from the Panthers blue line.

Juraj Kolnik triggered a Panthers revival with a brace of goals to make it 3-2.

But if the NIC fans were expecting something out of the game, they came up against a wall of white shirts. Nottingham pulled their goalie and were punished by a Mosienko empty-netter.

RESULTS

Sunday 13th March

Elite League

Cardiff Devils 4 Belfast Giants 3 (OT)

Dundee Stars 13 Edinburgh Capitals 2

Fife Flyers 1 Nottingham Panthers 2 (OT)

Manchester Storm 3 Braehead Clan 6

Sheffield Steelers 6 Coventry Blaze 3

FIXTURES

Wednesday 16th March

Elite League

Belfast Giants v Cardiff Devils – 7.00pm

Nottingham Panthers v Coventry Blaze – 7.30pm

Friday 18th March

Elite League

Belfast Giants v Fife Flyers – 7.00pm

Saturday 19th March

Elite League

Belfast Giants v Fife Flyers – 7.00pm

Braehead Clan v Edinburgh Capitals – 7.00pm

Dundee Stars v Coventry Blaze – 7.00pm

Manchester Storm v Cardiff Devils – 6.30pm

Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers – 7.00pm

Sunday 20th March

Elite League

Cardiff Devils v Nottingham Panthers – 6.00pm

Coventry Blaze v Manchester Storm – 5.15pm

Edinburgh Capitals v Braehead Clan – 5.30pm

Fife Flyers v Sheffield Steelers – 6.30pm

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