SHEFFIELD, U.K. – The Sheffield Steelers were back to winning ways last night with an magnanimous 7-2 victory over the Coventry Blaze, ensuring that they are in the quarter final of the Challenge Cup.
The Steelers were without defenceman Rod Sarich (groin injury) and Danny Wood (broken finger).
The hosts were soon on the scoresheet courtesy of Colin Shields at 02:49 when he rifled home a low one-timer after a nice drop pass from Jeff Legue to make it 1-0.
Legue’s assist on the goal, was his 425th point in a Steelers jersey meaning he is the fourth highest point scorer in Steelers history, a fine accolade for a player who is considered to be one of the best to grace the U.K. shores in the EIHL era.
Both teams pressed, but the Blaze were to score next through Captain Shea Guthrie who fired home from close range on the powerplay at 18:08 making it 1-1.
The second period was just 32 seconds old when Colin Shields netted his second of the game. The Glaswegian received a nice pass from Jeff Legue behind the net and he snapshotted it past a helpless Peter Hirsch in the Blaze goal to make it 2-1.
The visitors restored parity once again at 30:04 when a Greg Leeb pass took a fortuitous bounce of Steelers defenceman Danny Meyers’ leg deflecting past John DeCaro in the Steelers net to make it 2-2 on the powerplay.
The Blaze came close just ten seconds later when former NHL’er Brad Leeb was denied a go-ahead goal by the pipework.
The Steelers hit a post of their own this time from defenceman Drew Fata on the powerplay, sending a warning shot to the Blaze in the 33rd minute.
A minute later the hosts took the lead courtesy of Shawn Limpright, who was on hand to hit home a Tylor Michel rebound at close range on the powerplay to make it 3-2.
Just over a minute later the South Yorkshire side widened the margin when Jeff Legue finished a nice backhand move on the powerplay after a nice pass from Tom Sestito at 35:57 to make it 4-2.
No further scoring followed in the second period, ensuring that the Steelers went into the period break the happier of the two teams.
The Blaze’s indiscipline was the difference in the game, as Sheffield were gifted chance after chance on the powerplay.
Steelers defenceman Matt Stephenson was the next player to take advantage of the Blaze’s ill discipline when he hit home a one timer from the high slot to make it 5-2 at 46:32.
At 49:06 Colin Shields had the opportunity to complete his second hattrick in as many games when he was gifted a breakaway by a stray Jerramie Domish pass, but he fired his shot straight into Hirsch’s chest to deny himself the accolade.
With just over eight minutes of the game remaining Blaze Head Coach Paul Thompson decided to give young backup goaltender Adam Goss some ice time and gave him the nod in favour of Danish international Peter Hirsch.
Goss made a string of impressive saves, but he couldn’t prevent Colin Shields from dispatching a Tom Sestito rebound at 59:06 to claim his second hattrick in as many games, making it 6-2.
Sheffield added the seventh and final nail in the Blaze coffin at 59:22 when Shawn Limpright tapped home loose puck at close range ensuring his team claimed the two points and progressed to the next stage of the Challenge Cup.
The impressive victory meant that the Steelers were undefeated in the Challenge Cup with four wins from four outings.
Steelers Head Coach Ryan Finnerty offered his thoughts after the game, “I thought we again played well and we spread the scoring around which was good. DeCaro was again outstanding when he needed to be, he made some big saves and we built off that. Shields and Limpright getting 5 between them though was the highlight for me for sure”, Finnerty said. “Shieldsy had been quiet on the scoreboard recently despite playing very well. The 3 in Belfast and the 3 here tonight will give him a huge confidence boost ahead of the big game with Nottingham on Sunday,” Finnerty added.
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