COVENTRY Blaze suffered a heavy 6-0 defeat against Sheffield Steelers in the first leg of the Challenge Cup semi-finals.
Blaze fell behind after just 12 seconds and never recovered, conceding five goals in the first period at the Skydome Arena.
The second leg takes place on Wednesday, January 31 with the face-off at 7.30pm at Utilita Arena Sheffield.
Steelers are the runaway leaders in the Elite League this season and broke the deadlock after just 12 seconds when Mark Simpson finished from Daniel Ciampini’s pass.
And Sheffield doubled their lead at 2.06 through Robert Dowd after he redirected Niklas Nevalainen’s feed past Blaze netminder Taran Kozun.
Blaze head coach Danny Stewart called a time-out in an attempt to settle his side only for Ciampini to extend Sheffield’s lead at 9.40.
And Steelers showed their ruthlessness to score a fourth goal at 12.42 as Scott Allen finished Ciampini’s wraparound pass.
Steelers capped a nightmare first period for Blaze when Patrick Watling struck at 16.17 to all but seal victory for Sheffield.
Blaze forced Steelers netminder Matthew Greenfield into a couple of good saves in the second period before Sheffield added a sixth goal at 29.51 as Allen scored his second of the night.
The home side thought they had reduced the deficit at 52.23 only for Brady Norrish to see his effort ruled out due to goaltender interference by Johnny Curran.
Blaze are next in action away at Belfast Giants on Saturday, January 27 with the face-off at 7pm at SSE Arena Belfast.
And Coventry host Glasgow Clan on Sunday, January 28 with the face-off at 5.30pm at the Skydome.