Sheffield Steelers coach Aaron Fox salutes crucial win at Coventry Blaze as winning feeling continues

SHEFFIELD STEELERS maintained their unbeaten start to the season but required a shootout at Coventry Blaze on Sunday to ensure their 2021-22 win record stayed intact.

NICE JOB: Sheffield Steelers' John Armstrong scores the first of his two goals in the shootout against Coventry Blaze Picture: Scott Wiggins/EIHL.

Goaltender Rok Stojanovič and John Armstrong were the late heroes for Aaron Fox’s side, the goalie denying Coventry Blaze’s Evan Bloodoff in the sixth round of penalty shots at the Skydome Arena after the veteran forward had scored back-to-back goals off his backhand past CJ Motte at the other end.

Earlier, an 18th-minute strike from GB defenceman David Clements looked like it was going to be enough for Coventry to extend their unbeaten start to the regular league season. But a power play strike in the 56th minute from Daine Todd ensured the game went into overtime and then the lottery of a shootout.

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Afterwards, Steelers’ head coach Aaron Fox acknowledged the contribution of his starting goalie and his team’s effective penalty kill, which enjoyed a perfect night, proving most resolute in the second period.

“It took us a while to get there but, I think Rok and our penalty kill won us that game tonight,” said Fox. “I think they had six power plays in the second so it was hard to get any rhythm with guys sitting on the bench.

“Hopefully, come February we’re going to look back on this night and realise we didn’t maybe deserve the two points but we found a way to get them and which could end up being the difference somewhere down the line.

“I felt it was coming in the third, our game changed a little bit. It’s a hard building to play in, the ice isn’t great and we’re in the box all night but I thought we managed the situation the best we could, coming after a tough one against Manchester the night before.

“We’re three weeks in and you win four games in a row, so you’ve got to be happy with that, especially when two of them are league games.”

Marc-Olivier Valerand rounds Manchester Storm netminder Matt Ginn to make it 2-0 at Sheffield Arena. Picture: Dean Woolley/EIHL.

On Saturday, the Steelers repeated their Challenge Cup success over Manchester Storm from the previous weekend when they ran out deserved 5-3 winners at Sheffield Arena.

Steelers established a 2-0 lead through Tanner Eberle and Marc-Olivier Vallerand before the halfway mark, only for Finlay Ulrick to quickly halve the deficit.

Justin Hodgman swiftly restored the hosts’ two-goal advantage, the lead increasing before the end of the period through an Eberle power play strike at 38.28.

A second goal on the man advantage for the hosts came from Travis Oleksuk at 41.20 and although Storm closed the gap with strikes from Ben Wilson and Dallas Ehrhardt in the last five minutes, it was too little, too late.