Match Report: Sheffield Steelers 3 Coventry Blaze 2

So close: Sheffield Steelers Simon Ferguson is denied by Coventry Blake goalie Peter Hirsch last night at the Arena.          Picture: Dean Woolley
So close: Sheffield Steelers Simon Ferguson is denied by Coventry Blake goalie Peter Hirsch last night at the Arena. Picture: Dean Woolley
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STEELERS have made Blaze coach Paul Thompson’s life a misery this season.

In six previous matches, Sheffield had won five and had twice thumped seven goals past his goalie.

But the first period, last night, indicated this would be a very different night.

While Steelers bossed the early moments and kept Blaze forwards to the perimeter, they couldn’t get the puck past Peter Hirsch.

There was an element of ‘After the Lord Mayor’s show’ too, following the big win over Nottingham on the same ice.

Drew Fata and Chris Frank, on the points, had efforts which might have sneaked in.

Ashley Tait had the most promising chance, but Hirsch dealt with it.

While Coventry had been under pressure, Mike Bayrack issued a warning, offensively. He ripped through Sheffield’s blue line and back handed at John DeCaro.

At 18:14, the visitors took the lead with a controversial effort.

With several players either on the edge of the crease or in it, Dustin Cameron tapped the puck over the line.

DeCaro was furious - and harrangued the ref Michael Hicks in the players’ tunnel at the first interval.

Hirsch put on a master-class of netminding, with Jeff Legue, Rod Sarich and Tylor Michel all frustrated.

Yet there was no panic.

Steelers kept plugging away and Lee Esders raised the tempo a level when he fought Ross Venus at 27:53.

Less than a minute later, supercharged Steelers equalised. Tait fed Fata whose shot was tipped in by Legue. Hicks missed a nasty off-the-play slash by Benn Olson on Michel at 28:41 - not something Steelers fans wanted to witness after the recent Ferguson-Wilson incident.

But Tait engineered another goal at 37:55 put away by Fata, for 2-1.

Blaze absorbed more pressure and hit back at 42:19.

Matt Beleskey raced down Sheffield’s left flank - his nearerst marker opting not to challenge him - and he used the space to pick his spot.

It was impossible to pick a winner as the match headed for overtime.

But Shawn Limpright’s dramatic goal ensured both points.

And gave Thompson a wretched New Year’s Eve.

* Sheffield Steelers coach Ryan Finnerty has confirmed the club is waiting for a response from Belfast Giants’ Scott Champagne, having offered him a deal for the rest of the season.

Another option may be 36-year-old veteran wing David Beauregard, the former Nottingham Panther and Manchester Phoenix man, who has been released from Tulsa Oilers, in the Central Hockey League.