WHATEVER delight Paul Thompson had experienced on his way home from Scotland late on Saturday night was abruptly extinguished 24 hours later.
A 5-2 win at Braehead Clan ensured a fifth straight Elite League win and lifted the Steelers into second place in the standings before they returned home to host Thompson’s former club Coventry Blaze at Sheffield Arena.
But, like the previous meeting between the two earlier this month, it ended in defeat for the Steelers – Jordon Pietrus striking just 23 seconds from time to seal a 3-2 win for the visitors.
Thompson made it clear afterwards how frustrated he was, claiming his players “threw away” a game they should have won – they outshot the Blaze 39-16. The result left the Steelers back where they had started the weekend, in third place.
“We gave up three goals against Coventry that you wouldn’t expect a junior club to give up,” fumed Thompson.
“We were just cheating (on their goals) and we haven’t done that for a good four weeks.
“You don’t see Coventry playing loose there (like Steelers did for their winning goal) and we had to work for our goals.
“I felt that after the 30-minute mark they had nothing left and we were coming, coming and coming and even if we’d have gone into overtime I felt we were the fresher team.
“I’m always disappointed to throw away a game and, tonight, we threw away a game.”
The Steelers were off to the perfect start when Levi Nelson’s drop pass was slotted home by Robert Dowd at 12.14. Two minutes later, Coventry levelled through Cale Tanaka.
“I’m always disappointed to throw away a game and, tonight, we threw away a game.”Sheffield Steelers’ head coach, Paul Thompson.
It was Coventry who scored the only goal of the second period through Josh Godfrey at 26.42 and that was how it stayed going into the final period.
Eventually, the hosts’ pressure told with Russ Moyer scoring his first of the season at 46.22.
But, with the game heading for overtime, a loose pass by Jace Coyle fell to Russ Cowley, who served the puck up to Pietrus to convert from close range – enough for Blaze to lift themselves off the bottom of the overall table, with Manchester Storm replacing them.
On Saturday, goals from Mathieu Roy, Jeff Legue, Fredrik Vestberg, Luke Ferrara and Nelson secured the points for Thompson’s team, sealing a 3-1 series win over their hosts.
The damage was done in the first eight minutes, beginning just 33 seconds in when Roy scored from close range.
At 2.16 Roy turned provider by setting up Legue to make it 2-0.
It was only a matter of time before the Steelers scored a third and, when Tristan Harper went to the penalty box for charging, a powerplay goal followed with Vestberg scoring at 7.25 on the back of some good work by Guillaume Desbiens and Ben O’Connor
After a nightmare start for former Steelers’ coach Ryan Finnerty’s team, they got back in the game before the period break through Matt Hayward.
But the visitors’ extended their lead to 4-1 in the 28th minute, young British forward Luke Ferrara finding a way past Chris Holt.
At 35.30 Nelson converted to make it 5-1 and although Matt Keith reduced the deficit to three before the end of the second period, there was no further scoring in the third.