Hat-trick of wins as Steelers Blaze trail

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Sheffield Steelers continued their championship form with a third win in three days as they brushed Coventry Blaze aside 4-1 yesterday.

Coventry Blaze 1

Sheffield Steelers 4

(Sunday)

Sheffield Steelers 3

Coventry Blaze 2

After penalty shoot-out

(Saturday)

Sheffield Steelers continued their championship form with a third win in three days as they brushed Coventry Blaze aside 4-1 yesterday.

To look at the laboured efforts of Coventry, an onlooker could have been forgiven for thinking that they were the ones playing for the fourth time in five days instead of the Steelers.

Sheffield were workmanlike but able to zip the puck around smoothly on the powerplay and inject speed when it was needed.

Coventry had the majority of the early chances, but it was Sheffield whose opportunities were crisper and higher quality.

The difference between the two sides was outlined in the opening powerplays. Blaze could barely get into the Sheffield zone, the Steelers hit the post and forced Brett Jaeger to make a diving save onto the puck.

So it was no surprise when Ben Simon’s men took the lead, collecting the puck from a face-off and swiftly move it to Ashley Tait, who controlled it and fired low into the Coventry net.

Blaze have been playing three imports down and have been enduring three more playing below par, and the number of passes going astray and into skates afforded Sheffield more chances.

Coventry picked up their performance in the second period, getting more out of the powerplay – except a goal. Jonathan Weaver went close with a trademark one-timer, while Robert Farmer also got a couple of good snapshot opportunities. The game became scrappy and Sheffield’s second goal emphasised this – the puck was moved from the corner and Neil Clark turned and fired a hopeful shot towards the Blaze net, which went in off Brad Zanon’s skate.

Sean Selmser had a chance to pull one back when the puck zinged across to him, but Ervins Mustokovs made an excellent blocker save.

It prompted a spell of Blaze pressure, but they couldn’t crack the Sheffield defence.

Any doubt that this was Sheffield’s night vanished within 18 seconds of the third period. Sean Selmser coughed the puck up, allowed Steelers to get into the Coventry zone and Robert Dowd to fire home a low shot at 44.00.

Then straight from the face-off Sheffield swarmed down the ice, got the puck to the boards and pulled it back to Tait, who was left open to score his second.

Blaze finally clicked on their powerplay with Dan Carlson tipping in a Luke Fulghum pass, but any hint of a fightback soon evaporated as poor passing and a lack of energy again dogged their game, leaving Sheffield worthy 4-1 winners.

On Saturday, a heart-stopping win over Blaze at the Arena put Sheffield on top of the league, writes Bob Westerdale.

And they had Derek Campbell, shown the door by Blaze in the Summer, to thank for keeping them in the game.

Steelers player-coach Ben Simon had opened the scoring at 21.54, but that was cancelled out when Luke Fulghum netted shorthanded at 31.19.

Coventry’s Dan Carlson looked like he’d stolen the game at 58.41 only to see Campbell take it into overtime 25 seconds later.

Blaze dominated the extra period without scoring and paid for it in penalty shots; Joey Talbot being the only player to find the net out of six attempts.