October 24th, 2016

Mixed fortunes for Blaze boss after Challenge Cup defeat

Updated: 4:32 pm, May 07, 2015

BLAZE maintained their 100 per cent winning start in the Elite League but tasted defeat in the opening match of their Challenge Cup campaign.

Netminder Brian Stewart registered his second shut-out of the season as Blaze posted a 4-0 league win over Dundee Stars at the Skydome on Saturday evening.

But the following evening four final-period markers ensured Marc LeFebvre’s side began their Challenge Cup campaign with a 4-3 defeat at Cardiff Devils.

Canadian Stewart, who opened the campaign by blanking Fife Flyers, made 33 saves as Blaze claimed a third successive victory in the League.

First-period goals from Steve Goertzen, Jereme Tendler and captain Ashley Tait put Blaze in the driving seat in what was their 1,000th game in all competitions since moving to Coventry in 2000.

And British defenceman James Griffin, on his 150th league appearance for the club, added a fourth in the final period to wrap up a comfortable win.

Head coach LeFebvre said: “We took it away from them in the first period and we probably should have had a few more goals.

“That’s nine goals we have scored now and they have all been different scorers so it is great to see all the players chipping in.

“To be a team challenging for silverware you need a top goalie and Stewie is giving us a chance to win games which is great to see.”

The following evening Blaze turned their attention to the Challenge Cup. An early Craig Cescon goal handed the visitors took an early lead before Steve Goertzen doubled their cushion.

But Joey Haddad, Carl Hudson, Brent Walton and Jake Morissette all scored to turn the game on its head.

Russell Cowley grabbed a goal back with 45 seconds remaining but despite pulling netminder Stewart, Blaze were unable to force the tie as they lost for the first time this season.

LeFebvre added: “We need to find a way to win in this building. We couldn’t close the game out in pre-season and we haven’t managed it again.

“But it is back to the drawing board, we cannot dwell on it. We will have a good week of practice and get ready for Dundee on Friday night.”

*Blaze have confirmed this week that Defenceman Rory Rawlyk did not suffer a leg break during Sunday’s Challenge Cup defeat at Cardiff Devils.

The Canadian sustained a blow to the lower leg blocking a shot in the first period of the Group B tie and did not reappear.

But x-rays this week showed no break and he will now be assessed ahead of Friday’s trip to his former club Dundee Stars in the Elite League.

LeFebvre added: “It is huge news. Rory is a big part of our club and we want him on the ice.

“A lot of things go through your mind when you see a guy go down but it’s a huge relief for us.”

Ashley Tait celebrates his goal against Dundee Stars. (s) Photo by Scott Wiggins