Steelers’ league winning season ended in play-off disappointment with an aggregate 8-6 loss to bogey team Coventry.
Sheffield had been 5-0 down in Saturday’s first leg through Brett Robinson, Tanaka, Chris Bruton, Carl Lauzon and Kevin Noble before reducing it to 5-3 thanks to Fredrik Vestberg, Robert Dowd and Guillaume Desbiens.
They then conceded early on the Sunday second leg, re-built to take a 3-1 lead on the night, but fell short in the final period.
Coventry have been a thorn in their ex-boss Paul Thompson’s side all year - and it’s galling for him to see them advance into the semi finals on Saturday.
The consolation is that his team won the biggest prize. And he can build on that next season.
Blaze had wanted an early Sunday goal and Cale Tanaka’s pace delivered it, setting up Russell Cowley to score after 66 seconds.
But a 5-on-3 Power Play allowed Sheffield back in, Mathieu Roy tipping home (12:25).
The momentum swung and a slice of luck delivered a home lead, as Jace Coyle’s fake shot was deflected in, courtesy of James Isaac’s boot (17:01.)
Apart from the odd flurry, Sheffield dominated the middle period, and their chances of a win increased every time Blaze’s Boris Valabik, an utter liability, was on the ice.
Roy was unfortunate when his effort looped onto the top of the net but Colton Fretter heralded his return to the side with a cool finish on the PP, (30:17) to make it 6-6 on aggregate.
Every Steelers player was hitting, chasing, back-checking and skating their hearts out - Jonathan Phillips the perfect example.
But Coventry found a second breath. Brenden Walker and Carl Lauzon brought saves from Marek Pinc and their purple patch was crowned by a goal.
Tyler Mosienko lost a battle for the puck with Walker, who flicked the puck to Drew Fisher to net. Desperate Steelers hooked their goalie, but Cowley added an empty-netter with 12 seconds left.