Steelers are already there, but have been pegged back with a couple of defeats, while Coventry are breathing down their necks, setting the scene for what could be a fascinating contest.
07 Apr 21: Steelers 7 Blaze 2
13 Apr 21: Blaze 4 Steelers 6
- Aaron Fox remains confident of Steelers goal threat (Yorkshire Post)
- Wallace reflects on Panthers edgy win over Storm (Nottingham Panthers)
- As ever, we looked ahead to this game through the medium of numbers (British Ice Hockey)
📊 WHO WILL WIN? 📊
— British Ice Hockey 🏒 (@BritIceHockey) April 20, 2021
The forward was excellent as Aaron Fox’s men found their winning touch again after two straight losses to maintain their record over Coventry Blaze so far.
The fact Steelers had beaten Blaze in the two previous meetings gave them a psychological edge, but after Sheffield suffered two straight losses, Coventry coach Danny Stewart would have felt they were there for the taking.
They certainly got the start they were looking for when Nicolai Bryhnisveen struck the post with a shot after two minutes, but Mike Hammond picked it up, took it round the net and set up Tristan Keck to deliver the finish.
Steelers almost equalised through a great solo chance from Josh Waller, but pretty soon, were back on level terms when Brendan Connolly equalised on the powerplay, playing a pass that came off Shane Owen’s skate and landed in the net.
There were chances at both ends as this game really had the makings of a tight encounter, but both goalies, Owen and Curtis Warburton, kept their nets untouched.
That changed however when Kevin Schulze’s shot appeared to come off Matthew Myers’ skate and found itself in the Blaze goal to put them ahead again.
Within a minute and a half, Steelers had gone 3-1 ahead when a turnover allowed them to take advantage, ending with Brendan Connolly sending a shot over Owen’s right shoulder and into the top left hand corner.
Luke Ferrara hit the post with a chance late on in the second, but Steelers’ lead remained untouched as both teams returned to the locker room.
Coventry hit back with an early powerplay chance in the third as Janne Laakkonen swept one in at the back post to bring them to within one.
Steelers managed to kill a huge five-on-three powerplay and restored the two-goal cushion up the other end straight away when Connolly teed up Liam Kirk to slam home on the delayed penalty.
Connolly got his fourth point by setting up Robert Dowd, who finished in the five-hole to make it five for Steelers and effectively sealed the game for them.
Keck got a tap in inside the final couple of minutes after Warburton made an initial save , but it did nothing for the dynamic of the game in the end.
SHOTS ON GOAL: Steelers 44 Blaze 20
Steelers – Brendan Connolly (09:50 – Olden, Schulze PP); Matthew Myers (32:18 – Schulze, Hrabal); Brendan Connolly (33:49 – Saxrud-Danielsen, Dowd); Liam Kirk (47:24 – Connolly, Hewitt); Robert Dowd (51:49 – Connolly)
Blaze – Tristan Keck (02:12 – Hammond, Bryhnisveen PP); Janne Laakkonen (40:23 – Hammond, Ferrara); Tristan Keck (58:16 – unassisted)
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