BLAZE maintained their impressive 100 per cent winning start in the Elite League thanks to a narrow 2-1 victory at Dundee Stars.
Mark Smith and a first of goal of the season for Ross Venus cancelled out Shane Lust’s late consolation on Friday evening after Kyle Bochek (Blaze) and Igor Gongalsky (Stars) dropped gloves early on.
Blaze now sit top of the table two points clear of Belfast Giants in second ahead of a double header this weekend starting with a trip to Belfast on Saturday before a home match with Sheffield Steelers on Sunday.
Head coach Marc LeFebvre said: “It wasn’t pretty by any means but it is sometimes good to win ugly.
“Points are always tough to come by in Scotland but we found a way to win. We have taken the lead in every game so far and we want to be a 60-minute hockey club.
“It was good to have that secondary scoring again. With Rory not playing, Ross made the most of his chance and ended up getting the game-winner.”
Blaze also tasted success in the Challenge Cup when they overcame Nottingham Panthers 4-3 at the Skydome on Sunday in their Group B encounter.
The hosts took a two-goal first-period lead with markers from Russell Cowley and Craig Cescon.
Max Parent grabbed a goal back but Steve Goertzen restored Blaze’s two-goal cushion before Ryan O’Marra extended their lead further.
But goals from Nathan Robinson and Parent again set up a frantic finish with the Panthers pulling netminder Dan Green in an attempt to tie the game but Blaze held on.
LeFebvre added: “I am very proud of the guys and the way they closed the game out. We didn’t panic and fold under pressure like we did last weekend (in Cardiff).
“We played for 60 minutes and that is what you have to do against a skilled team like Nottingham. There is a reason why they are at the top every year, they are a very good club.
“That team has won this competition for five years in a row and for us to be competing for silverware we need to be winning these games and beating the big arena teams.
“We started slow and weathered the storm. We scored the first goal again and it calmed things down. We battled hard all night and it was a total team effort.”
Defenceman Rory Rawlyk (leg) was absent from both matches over the weekend and the club will continue to monitor his progress throughout the week.
Blaze will keep monitoring the condition of Rawlyk ahead of Sunday’s Challenge Cup tie against holders Nottingham Panthers at the Skydome (5.15pm face-off).
LeFebvre added: “It was a late call on Rory but we would rather miss him for one or two games than for six weeks.
“It is a marathon not a sprint so why risk him? We left him out as a precaution and it will be another late decision for Sunday.”
Netminder Brian Stewart faced a barrage of pucks from a determined Nottingham team. (s) Photo by Scott Wiggins
MOM Craig Ceson scored the second goal and dug in deep to defend the Blaze lead. (s) Photo by Scott Wiggins