Coventry Blaze 1-2 Sheffield Steelers
Aaron Fox insists he has complete confidence in new goalie Barry Brust, who played just 40 minutes of two games for Sheffield Steelers over the weekend.
Brust, who had not competed since the pandemic ended the 2019-20 season, missed Sheffield' s first two games of the season and pulled up with cramp after two periods of Saturday's 5-3 win over Manchester Storm.
On Sunday, Brust's spot between the pipes was taken by 'trialist' Rok Stojanovic, whom coach Fox appeared to indicate would be around for some time to come.
The excellent Stojanovic stonewalled Blaze, facing 40 shots in the eventual penalty shot win at Coventry, who the previous night had triumphed 5-2 at Nottingham Panthers.
Sheffield had trailed most of Sunday's match but levelled with four minutes left and then won the shoot-out lottery.
In the larger picture, and while Stojanovic's form is staking a claim for him to stay longer, Fox says the coaching staff had been "playing it by ear" with Brust.
"He had a couple of cramps" said the coach of his 40-minute appearance.
"It has been a long 18 months for Barry since he's played games. I think you can really see his substance out there. He is big, square on pucks...makes good reads. It is just going to take him a little bit to get into that game form. But I think when we do I think we will all be pretty happy."
Sunday saw Stojanovic in tremendous form in the Midlands.
He was beaten after 17 minutes by a blue line shot through traffic from Great Britain defenceman David Clements at the Skydome.
But after that, he controlled his crease with confidence.
It had been frustrating for Steelers to head into the first interval trailing, especially as the rivals were tied on 12 shots each.
That frustration lingered after the break, with Tanner Eberle called for tripping and Anthony DeLuca and Brendan Connolly sharing the penalty box, to give Blaze a five-on-three superiority. But Sheffield's penalty killers - and particularly Stojanovic - were solid as a rock. The visitors had a stroke of luck too when Johnny Curran missed a clear opportunity.
Coventry's American netminder C.J. Motte, saved one Evan Mosey effort with style, but at the end of the middle frame, the fans had seen seven minor penalties awarded and no goals.
Steelers needed to avoid the referee's further displeasure to avoid being shut out for a third consecutive period.
John Armstrong and DeLuca came close to leveling.
Then David Broll's high stick offence against Justin Hodgman earned him a 2+2 penalty at 51:35 - the time had come for a Steeler power play goal at last with Daine Todd forehanding home from the left circle at 55:22.
After a goalless overtime, penalty shots went to sudden death, with Armstrong netting the decider.