Sheffield Steelers 0 Coventry Blaze 2 - News of Armstrong return offers relief on frustrating night for Steelers

NO WAY THROUGH: Coventry goalie Miroslav Kopriva inflicted a first shutout of the season on Sheffield Steelers on Saturday night. Picture: Dean Woolley.
NO WAY THROUGH: Coventry goalie Miroslav Kopriva inflicted a first shutout of the season on Sheffield Steelers on Saturday night. Picture: Dean Woolley.
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PERHAPS the most positive moment for Sheffield Steelers’ fans on Saturday night not surprisingly came after their team’s 2-0 Elite League defeat at home to Coventry Blaze when, as they headed for the doors, it was announced that centre John Armstrong would be returning to the club.

The 30-year-old Canadian was a popular member of the Steelers team under former head coach Paul Thompson during a two-year stint at the club that brought a play-off trophy win.

Along with most of his 2017-18 team-mates, he departed for pastures new in the summer, signing for Croatian team Medvescak Zagreb.

But, with the EBEL club running into financial problems, Armstrong has negotiated a return to South Yorkshire on an 18-month deal, hopefully in time to play in the second leg of the Challenge Cup quarter-final with Guildford Flames on Wednesday night.

Barrasso admitted he knew little about his new signing, but was confident - having seen his resume and having had talks with others who have played alongside and coached him - that Armstrong would fit in well to thline-up

As for the performance against the Blaze - who inflicted a first shutout of the season on the Steelers - the only positive for Barrasso was the performance of netminder Matt Climie, who turned away 31 of 32 shots on his net.

The only time he was beaten came late in the second period from the stick of Chris Joyaux, with the Blaze ensuring they went back home with both points through Thom Flodqvist’s empty net strike at 59.05.

Steelers had some clear chances of their own and thought they had levelled in the 57th minute, only for the goal to be wiped off when it was shown not to have crossed the line thanks to a stunning stick save from Coventry goalie Miroslav Kopriva.

"Our goalie played really well and gave us an opportunity to stay in the game," said a frustrated Barrasso afterwards. "But offensively we certainly didn’t take advantage of that.

"We really came off of our offensive game just from a putting pucks to the net perspective. It was a little bit perplexing because we talked about after the second period that we needed to get to the net more.

IN FORM: Sheffield Steelers' netminder Matt Climie was in top form, but couldn't prevent defeat to Coventry at home on Saturday night. Picture: Dean Woolley.

IN FORM: Sheffield Steelers' netminder Matt Climie was in top form, but couldn't prevent defeat to Coventry at home on Saturday night. Picture: Dean Woolley.

"And even when we had the goalie out we refused to shoot the puck, so I’m not sure where that came from but we’ve got to get it out of our game very quickly."

HELLO AGAIN: John Armstrong is back with Sheffield Steelers after agreeing an 18-month deal. Picture: Dean Woolley.

HELLO AGAIN: John Armstrong is back with Sheffield Steelers after agreeing an 18-month deal. Picture: Dean Woolley.