Sheffield Steelers 2-3 Coventry Blaze (final score, penalty shots)

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Sheffield Steelers slipped up in the race to stay in the League title hunt tonight.

They failed on a penalty shoot out to go down 3-2 to Coventry - the last team to beat them at home

Coventry Blaze

Coventry Blaze

Coach Paul Thompson said he was happy with the overall performance, but less pleased with the execution of goal chances against a goalie, Brian Stewart, they had trained all week to beat.

Braehead Clan's 3-1 win over Fife Flyers on Friday had seen the Scots push Sheffield down into third place in the Elite division.

So a victory over Coventry Blaze was essential for Sheffield to get their nose back in front - two points would have moved the champions back into second place.

Clan had started the weekend off a point clear of Sheffield, with two games in hand - the Scots don't play again until Sunday night.

Sheffield were without import goalie Marek Pinc, as well as Guillaume Desbiens, Rob Dowd and Colton Fretter.

And they went behind when Brad Day was beaten at his near post after a neat passing move, Brett Robinson scoring.

Sheffield were behind until Mathieu Roy cashed in on a dreadful defensive mistake and made it 1-1, 13 minutes later.

It was a tasty fixture with Zack Fitzgerald taking roughing and boarding minor penalties.

Steelers took the lead in the second period with a beauty of a goal from Ben O'Connor.

He arrived unnoticed down the left flank and skilfully directed the puck past Stewart at 31;47.

They deserved to have established a lead - but then lost it, Robinson netting his second of the night at 39:18.

Steelers had a hat-full of chances on the Power Play in the last session.

But they wasted a 97-second 5-on-3 advantage to take the lead and struggled to break down Stewart and his blue liners.

In the penalty shoot out, Tyler Mosienko and Ryan Hayes both failed against Stewart, but Drew Fisher and Jordan Pietrus executed, to win the match.

Steelers had to be content with a regulation time point - but there was no disguising it was a wretched result.

And one which makes the chances of retaining the title one, huge step further away.

Steelers are at Coventry's Skydome tonight.

But now the players know that other teams now have to "do us a favour" if they are to be champions again.

RESULTS

Saturday 30th January

Elite League

Fife Flyers 4 Belfast Giants 3

Manchester Storm 8 Edinburgh Capitals 5

Nottingham Panthers 0 Cardiff Devils 3

Sheffield Steelers 2 Coventry Blaze 3 (PS)

FIXTURES

Sunday 31st January

Elite League

Belfast Giants v Nottingham Panthers – 5.00pm

Cardiff Devils v Edinburgh Capitals – 6.00pm

Coventry Blaze v Sheffield Steelers – 5.15pm

Dundee Stars v Manchester Storm – 6.30pm

Fife Flyers v Braehead Clan – 6.30pm

RESULT

Friday 29th January

Elite League

Braehead Clan 3 Fife Flyers 1