The wheels looked like they were coming off for the League’s bottom club last night.
Coventry Blaze were so late arriving through the traffic-choked M1 that face off against Steelers was delayed for 80 minutes, much to the annoyance of many families in the crowd.
But Blaze twice fought back from being a goal down and won some new admirers with their work ethic at Sheffield Arena. They were cruelly denied a point after conceding in the final minute.
Fourth-place Steelers had needed one win to become the first team to record 500 wins in all EIHL competitions.
And Blaze’s bus legs seemed there for all to see when Colton Fretter fired Steelers ahead (5;48.) Steelers had put nine unanswered goals past Coventry earlier in the season but the Midlands side hit back (9.55) on the Power Play with Drew Fisher converting.
Mathieu Roy, skipper in place of injured Jonathan Phillips, restored the lead (13;01) after Cullen Eddy and Tyler Mosienko had triggered a raid. It was the home side’s second PP goal, not their strong suit this season. But defensively Steelers dropped another clanger (15;17) when Carl Lauzon caught Marek Pinc out and the lead was gone again.
Guillaume Desbiens, the 30-year-old signing from Ljubljana in the Austrian league, was called on to shore up the defence during a 5-on-3 penalty kill in the second session.
Blaze goalie Brian Stewart put in an exceptional shift in that session, both he and Pinc keeping attackers at bay.
But as a spectacle it was modest to say the least, one fan, song-writer and record producer Eliot Kennedy tweeted: “You know you’re in trouble when even leggy (Jeff Legue) plays poorly. We are creating absolutely nothing. Worst period I’ve seen.”
Steelers had a 5-on-3 power play in the third session but they could not execute in the way their coach, Paul Thompson, has been insisting on.
Bottom of the table Blaze had picked up just 11 points from an available 26 and had won just once in their last seven attempts. But they were certainly not playing like losers as the game went into its last 10 minutes.
Zack Fitzgerald hit a post in the closing stages and Fretter sealed maximum points with a strike with 34 seconds left.
*Relatively new signing Chris Lawrence was left out of the side - so the writing could be on the way for the former Nottingham Panther.
*Steelers play in Nottingham on Sunday (4pm.)
* Fife Flyers won their all-Scottish clash with the Dundee Stars 1-0 thanks to Stephen Gunn’s goal in the first period.
Friday 27th November
Dundee Stars 0 Fife Flyers 1
Sheffield Steelers 3 Coventry Blaze 2
Saturday 28th November
Cardiff Devils v Nottingham Panthers – 7.00pm
Fife Flyers v Braehead Clan – 7.15pm
Manchester Storm v Dundee Stars – 6.30pm
Sunday 29th November
Belfast Giants v Manchester Storm – 4.00pm
Braehead Clan v Fife Flyers – 6.00pm
Coventry Blaze v Cardiff Devils – 5.15pm
Edinburgh Capitals v Dundee Stars – 5.30pm
Nottingham Panthers v Sheffield Steelers – 4.00pm