DEFLATED Coventry Blaze head coach Danny Stewart believes his side deserved more from their 6-5 overtime loss against leaders Sheffield Steelers on Sunday night.
The Blaze were leading 5-3 with less than five minutes remaining at the Skydome Arena, but were forced into overtime after conceding twice in the space of three minutes.
A winner from the Steelers’ Nikolai Lemtyugov then followed a minute and 39 seconds into the extra period to condemn Coventry to their fifth overtime defeat this term.
Stewart says his side put in a maximum level of effort in the Elite League clash, commenting: “It’s disappointing for everyone involved, but particularly for the players.
“They left everything out there and they played well. We’ve got to make sure this doesn’t derail us a little bit as it was a tough way to lose a game.”
Blaze, who still took a point for their efforts, got off to a miserable start when former player Marco Vallerand blasted the puck beyond netminder C.J Motte just 21 seconds into the game.
The hosts regrouped and got themselves back on level terms when Dillon Eichstadt buried a strike from the blue line at 6.57, allowing teammate and top-scorer Luke Ferrara to put Blaze ahead with his 24th goal of the season at 8.02.
Sheffield were next to register on the scoreboard when levelling midway through the second period, courtesy of a powerplay goal from Tanner Eberle (29.20).
But just as they ended the first, Blaze remained in front at the close of the second period when Andrew Johnston finished a move involving Janne Laakkonen and Ferrara on 31.09.
With the game remaining an open affair, goals were plentiful during the final 20.
The Steelers levelled for a second time when Eberle finished clinically at 43.29, only for Evan Bloodoff to net a quickfire double at 46.11 and 47.50 – the second being a powerplay goal – to put Coventry in control.
A two-minute penalty for Johnson on 54.46 proved decisive as the Steelers’ Marek Trocinsky reduced the deficit to one during the powerplay period on 55.16.
Sheffield swapped their netminder Tomas Duba for an extra skater after the goal, a move that worked to perfection when Lucas Sandstrom fired home an equaliser at 58.44.
Less than two minutes into the overtime period, a stunning solo effort from Lemtyugov settled the tie at 61.39 to leave Blaze bewildered.
Coventry remain fifth, ahead of Saturday’s (7.15pm) trip to Fife Flyers at Fife Ice Arena, and a home game against Manchester Storm on Sunday evening (5.30pm).