Blaze deny Sheffield Steelers play-off double

Gerad Adams' Sheffield Steelers were beaten by Coventry in Sunday's play-off final.
Gerad Adams' Sheffield Steelers were beaten by Coventry in Sunday's play-off final.
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Coventry Blaze were crowned Elite League play-off champions for the first time in 10 years following a 4-2 victory over holders Sheffield Steelers at the National Ice Centre.

Blaze, who were languishing in ninth place when coach Chuck Weber arrived in mid-December, completed a remarkable turnaround to deny the league champions a second successive play-off triumph.

Steven Goertzen, who captained Steelers to the play-off title last season, fired an early chance over for Blaze before he nudged his side ahead from the next play at 3.01.

Russell Cowley had an opportunity to make it 2-0 but was denied by Steelers goaltender Josh Unice on a breakaway.

Steelers were struggling to create any offence but, on the first powerplay of the game, Mike Forney was foiled by Blaze goaltender Brian Stewart and then fluffed a chance from close in.

Stewart, the league’s netminder of the year, also came out on top against player of the year Mathieu Roy.

Jereme Tendler doubled Blaze’s lead just 29 seconds into the middle session before Stewart made a fantastic flying save from Tyler Mosienko.

Ryan O’Marra tapped a chance wide but Ross Venus capitalised on an error in the Steelers defence to produce a composed finish at 29.17.

Captain Ashley Tait, who netted the overtime winner when Blaze last lifted the trophy in 2005, made it 4-0 at 30.44 after an error from Unice.

Steelers pulled a goal back in bizarre circumstances when Stewart went to retrieve his stick which had been kicked away by Roy, who duly tucked the puck into the empty net with the Canadian goalie scrambling back in vain.

Roy then notched his 46th marker of the season at 47.03 with Steelers short-handed.

Cale Tanaka saw his penalty shot at 56.24 saved by Unice but Blaze were not to be denied.

Earlier in the day, Belfast Giants defeated Hull Stingrays 8-6 in the third-place play-off.