September 29th, 2016

Coventry Blaze crash out of Challenge Cup after Back-to-back defeats

Coventry Blaze crash out of Challenge Cup after Back-to-back defeats Coventry Blaze crash out of Challenge Cup after Back-to-back defeats

BACK-to-back defeats has seen Coventry Blaze drop out of the Challenge Cup before the quarter-final stage.

Chuck Weber’s side went into a busy weekend knowing they needed to win at least one of two matches to progress out of the group stage of this year’s competition.

But they were undone by three final-period goals in South Wales on Saturday night where they lost 6-4 to Cardiff Devils and the following evening a 3-1 defeat at home to Manchester Storm ended Blaze’s Challenge Cup campaign.

The weekend began with a trip to Wales for Blaze who were without Brett Robinson again and Brent Waltom fired the Devils ahead before Jordan Pietrus levelled with 12 minutes gone.

Ashley Tait nudged the visitors ahead on 17 minutes only for Joey Haddad to make it 2-2 just 21 seconds later and Andrew Hotham and Blaze defenceman Mike Quesnele then traded second-period goals.

Two Zach Hervato markers inside 32 seconds were followed by Leigh Salters goal to put the hosts firmly in control and despite Tait grabbing his second of the match with 51 seconds remaining, it proved too little too late.

Coach Weber was hoping to see an improved performance from his side at the Skydome the following evening and he welcomed back Robinson while Tom Ralph came in as a guest from Hull Pirates.

But Blaze were without Russell Cowley and Boris Valabik through injury, while Kevin Noble was banned following his match penalty in Cardiff.

After a scoreless first period, Matt Caria scored the opening goal for Storm on 37 minutes and Omar Pacha doubled their advantage six minutes later.

Robinson reduced the deficit two minutes from time on his return, but Luke Salazar wrapped up the win with 46 seconds remaining.

“Unfortunately we picked the wrong time to put up our worst performance of the season,” said Weber after Sunday’s defeat.

“We overpassed too many opportunities to shoot and we did not learn from our powerplay of late which was to get point shots through traffic, we tried to be too cute.

“We gave up too many Grade A scoring chances and they could easily have had three or four goals more in the second period.

“I am disappointed with the way we performed in a game of this magnitude. We talked about how important this game was for the organisation and we have let the organisation down. There is a lot of work to do.”

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