19th Oct, 2018

Kopriva blunts the Steelers as Coventry Blaze earn 5-2 victory

CZECH netminder Miroslav Kopriva stopped 25 of 27 shots to earn a second consecutive Man of the Match award as the Coventry Blaze produced an outstanding performance to beat the Sheffield Steelers 5-2 at the Skydome Arena on Sunday.

His excellent form carried over from Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Glasgow Clan, where he saved 25 of 26 shots to scoop the Man of the Match award on his debut having signed with the Elite League club last Thursday.

Great Britain defenceman Davey Phillips opened the scoring early for the Steelers (2.26) but that was about as good as it got for the struggling away side as Blaze took over the game from that point onwards.

They had to wait until 16.44 to tie the score, though, as for the second night running they were faced with a goalie in scintillating form.

Jackson Whistle, who stopped 37 of 41 shots on the night, was beaten first by defenceman Chris Joyaux.

Then 35-year-old Alex Nikiforuk celebrated his birthday in style, finding the back of the net just 15 seconds into the second period (20.15) for 2-1.

Tanner Eberle, who was voted Man of the Match for Sheffield tied things up again (37.41), later missing the net on a penalty shot opportunity.

Before the middle period was done, Blaze again took a deserved lead on a five-on-three opportunity, with Justin Hache beating Whistle for 3-2.

The final period was again all Coventry as Jake Hansen made it 4-2 (55.04), the American then sealing the deal with an empty net goal (59.29) for a final score of 5-2.

Blaze head coach Danny Stewart said: “I think all weekend we played well.

“It was nice to see a few goals go in this weekend too.

“Hache’s goal at the end of the second was a big goal and I like the way we played in the third.

“We kept things simple and got pucks in behind them and made strong plays where we needed to and it was a good way to seal off the win.”

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