THERE was a clear sense of frustration about Sheffield Steelers’ head coach Aaron Fox following his side’s defeat to Coventry Blaze on Saturday night.
No doubt his irritation had something to do with the fact his side took the lead three times in the opening game of their Elite League regular season on home ice - even going 4-2 ahead - only to end up with nothing at the end of the night as they lost out 6-4 to Danny Stewart’s resourceful team.
Without naming names, Fox questioned some of his players’ contributions during post-match interviews, so it’s fair to assume that stronger words were uttered behind closed doors.
Whatever was said had the desired effect however, as - less than 24 hours later - his team emerged from their rematch with Coventry as 4-1 victors, this time on the road at the Skydome Arena.
The Steelers proved a much more obdurate opponent in the Midlands, taking a 1-0 first-period lead through Martin St. Pierre and never really looking back.
Robert Dowd doubled the lead at 23.52 before Marc Olivier-Vallerand scored against his former club to make it 3-0 at 31.52.
Any hopes the Blaze had of repeating their previous night’s heroics were put to bed after John Armstrong’s fine solo effort at 49.18, Evan Bloodoff’s 53rd-minute strike proving no more than a consolation.
On Saturday, Dowd opened the scoring for the Steelers on the breakaway at 3:28, but Coventry were level just over four minutes later when David Broll's shot from the face-off circle went through Pavel Kantor.
The Steelers were back ahead at 11:57 thanks to some neat skill by Anthony DeLuca, only for the visitors to again level, this time through Justin Hamonic at 25.08.
Two tip-ins from in front of the net on the power play by Brendan Connolly within 94 seconds of each other put the hosts firmly in control, or so they thought until Janne Laakkonen brought the Blaze back to within one at 28.17.
The crucial moment arrived at 49.32 when Andrew Johnston expertly finished off a breakaway to make it 4-4 before the Blaze took the lead for the first time just over two minutes later through Charles Corcoran, a blow from which the Steelers never recovered with Drew Schiestel’s empty net strike securing the points.