The Steelers booked their place in the Challenge Cup final tonight, backed to the win by Anthony Morrone as both Patrick Harper and Sam Cooper made their debuts for the club.
Two goals in the first by defencemen Sam Jones and Brien Diffley was added to in the second by Captain, Robert Dowd and in the third by Mitchell Balmas to run away with the semi-final contest by ten goals to one.
The Steelers now await their opponent for the final which will be held at the Utilita Arena on the 13th March as the Glasgow Clan and Guildford Flame battle for the last place next Wednesday.
First Period (2-0) [8-0]
Despite the best efforts of the Coventry Blaze in the first twenty, it was the Steelers who came out on top once again in the first period as they extended their lead to eight. Fair play to the Blaze who had certainly come to make a good game of it tonight with the visitors upping the intensity from puck drop, especially through young Mack Stewart who used his body to good effect.
But the devastating firepower from the Steelers was once again too much to handle.
However, it was a blue line effort from the Steelers that got them on the board at (12.16) thanks to a lovely saucer pass from Nevalainen to find Sam Jones at the back post and he made no mistake in burying his effort. Secondary assist awarded to Ciampini on review.
The Steelers then had a bit of a let off as the puck came free from Morrone’s glove, but the officials whistle sounded before the puck found the back of the Steelers net. At the other end it looked like Mikko Juusola was ready to make it two for the Steelers as he used his immense speed to get in around the Blaze defence down the right wing and cut across Nolan but couldn’t quite find the finish into the gaping goal.
But two it was for the Steelers at (17.57) with another goal from the defensive unit via Brien Diffley who picked up the puck close in on Nolan and did enough to stuff it home and pick up his first Challenge Cup goal for the club. Captain, Robert Dowd with the assist on this one.
Second Period (4-1) [10-1]
Another extension to the lead for the Steelers in the second as Dowd and Balmas added to the Steelers tally which now totalled ten across 5 periods.
Goal of the two legs at (29.34) made by Mikko Juusola lifting the stick on his man at the Blaze blue line to then quickly find Dowd entering the zone at the other side who required the use of his skate to control the puck and sniped one home going across Nolan Kent.
(34.39) and the Blaze finally entered the contest on the scoreboard as the puck was turned over in the neutral zone by Clements, who found McNulty and quickly to Kristo as he entered the Steelers zone and finished nicely above Morrone’s catcher.
But the Steelers kept coming and restored the nine-goal advantage at (39.02) with Watling on the ice recovering from a shot to the ankle as Balmas somehow managed to find a gap short-side on Nolan with assists to Cormier and Vallerand. It was good to see Watling return to his feet and make his way to the bench under his own steam.
Third Period (4-1) [10-1]
With the game well and truly over the pace dropped in the third as both teams attention turned to their next encounters.
The Steelers finishing tonight’s contest with 32 shots on the goal of Kent, compared to the Blaze’s 14 efforts on Anthony Morrone as he finished with a 92.86% save percentage and back stopped his team to the Challenge Cup final.
With that 92.86% save percentage, Anthony Morrone was awarded the Steelers Man of the Match award but was first to exit the Musical Chair Eddy as the extra padding did him no favours.
Up next for the Steelers is a double-header against the Glasgow Clan who the Steelers may face in the Challenge Cup final to be decided next Wednesday when they take on the Guildford Flames. A trip up to Scotland beckons on Friday night before we head back home on Saturday night for a 7pm face-off – see you there…!