SHEFFIELD, U.K. – The Sheffield Steelers avenged last weekend’s overtime loss to West Midlands side the Coventry Blaze, with a dominant 5-2 win at the Motorpoint Arena on Thursday evening.
The hosts were boosted by the return of Captain Steven Goertzen who sat out the previous two games with a foot injury. The return of Goertzen proved vital as his leadership on the ice had been sorely missed last weekend.
The Steelers skipper was involved in the action from the opening face-off as he and Blaze forward Kevin Harvey exchanged slashes and pleasantries before the puck had even dropped.
The Steelers threatened early on with tough guy Tim Spencer forcing Blaze netminder Mike Zacharias into making a good save at 1:35.
The Blaze pressed and offered chances of their own with Gerome Giudice coming close after a goalmouth scramble, with the 24-year-old winger shooting the puck into Frank Doyle’s chest in the fourth minute.
The hosts broke the deadlock at 6:59 when winger Nate DiCasmirro was on hand to pick up a loose puck after a Rob Sirianni slapshot rebounded out to him, with DiCasmirro firing from the right wing slot low past Zacharias to make it 1-0.
The game turned physical in the twelfth minute when Blaze defenceman Mike Devin stood up Nate DiCasmirro on the blueline with Steelers defenceman Drew Fata taking exception to the hit.
Fata instigated a fight with Devin, with both players jostling to get their arms free. After a bit of grappling the referees split the two combatants up with an honourable draw being the verdict given.
The Steelers blueliner was assessed a further 2+10 penalty for instigating the fight with Devin at 12:04, meaning the Blaze would have the first powerplay of the game.
Impressive Blaze forward Adam Henrich took advantage of the powerplay as he blasted home a slapshot from the point high past Frank Doyle to put the teams on level terms at 12:28 making it 1-1.
At 16:54 the Steelers came close to restoring their lead when Tim Spencer fired a wrist shot at Zacharias, with the Blaze goaltender making the initial save but the puck then came loose and hit the crossbar.
No further scoring followed in an evenly contested opening period between the two teams.
The second period started as a scrappy affair, with both sides looking to assert themselves in the game and looking to edge ahead.
Great Britain international Robert Dowd edged his team ahead when he fired a wrist shot low past Mike Zacharias to make it 2-1 at 23:45/
The Blaze pressed and offered chances of their own with young forward Ross Venus testing Frank Doyle with a wristshot from the slot at 26:52.
The hosts could have doubled their advantage at 33:56 after defenceman Dustin Kohn found himself on a 2-on-1 with Nate DiCasmirro, but the blueliner fired his shot agonisingly wide.
The Steelers then widened the margin at 35:01 when defenceman Drew Fata was on hand to tap home a close range rebound after an initial Stefan Meyer shot was saved superbly by Zacharias, giving the Steelers a 3-1 lead.
The second period came to an end, one in which Sheffield stepped up a gear and controlled the tempo of the game with some great puck possession and some resilient defensive plays.
The Steelers looked menacing early in the final period and almost had a fourth when Rob Dowd came close at the back door, only to be denied by a great save from netminder Zacharias at 41:24.
Sheffield pressed and soon added a fourth goal courtesy of Rob Dowd as he tipped home a Dustin Kohn point shot to beat Zacharias and give his team some further breathing room at 46:56 to make it 4-1. The goal was officially given to Rob Sirianni on the game sheet, but it certainly looked like Dowd.
The visitors were determined to not go down without a fight and bagged a goal against the run of play from top scorer Ryan Ginand, who fired home a rebound after a Michael Henrich point shot at 53:08.
Less than a minute later and Sheffield restored their 3-goal-cushion thanks to Stefan Meyer who was all alone in the slot and converted after a great Jeff Legue pass to make it 5-2 at 54:02.
The Steelers killed off the final five minutes with relative ease to take the all important two points.
Contact the author at Scott.firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Pro Hockey News on Twitter – @prohockeynews
Follow the author on Twitter – @cliffy94