ICE HOCKEY: BLAZE fans were treated to a Christmas cracker at the Skydome on Sunday night as the Skydome outfit put seven past an ill-disciplined Manchester Storm.
Arguably the most entertaining game of the season, Storm were made to pay for their actions both on and off the ice as Blaze netted five times in the opening period – before adding further goals in the second and third periods respectively.
Blaze made the best possible start when league top scorer Marco Vallerand netted after just one minute of play to establish an early lead for the home side.
Vallerand soon doubled his and Blaze’s tally when scoring during a 5-on-3 powerplay before Adam Courchaine made it 3-0 with less than five minutes on the clock.
It could’ve been 4-0 seconds later when Edgars Bebris found the back of the net at 4.57, but the goal had been dislodged prior to the shot meaning it didn’t stand.
An own goal by Luke Moffatt midway through the first period added to Storm’s heartache before Gaelan Patterson made it 5-0 in the final minute of the opening period, sending the Skydome into raptures.
Storm started the second period in physical fashion, namely when Linden Springer dropped the gloves with a disinterested Ben Lake.
Springer threw several hard punches at Lake before the Blaze forward fought back – the pair eventually scrummed to the ice. Springer later received a ten-minute penalty for instigation.
Marco Vallerand secured his hat-trick at 24.09 before Kevin Nastiuk was eventually beat when Andrew McKinney twisted through the Blaze zone before slotting a backhanded shot past the Blaze shot-stopper.
Newbie Patrik Moisio, who has joined Blaze on a four-week trial, then earned himself a match penalty after charging ruthlessly into the back of a Storm defender.
His hit prompted Shane Baker to beat Moisio to the ice when dropping the gloves – the game’s second fight. Moisio was thrown out of the game while Baker received a ten-minute penalty for instigation.
As if the game didn’t have enough incidents, coaches Danny Stewart and Ryan Finnerty then had strong words on the bench which had to be broke up by the game’s officials.
Ciaran Long brought Storm within four goals when he beat Nastiuk at 30.29 before the Blaze netminder made a point-blank reaction save from close range with seconds to go in the middle period.
The save seemingly inspired an increasingly tired Blaze to victory as Ben Lake finished the scoring at 44.08.
That was before Storm’s Dane Byers was thrown out of the game after abuse of an official – a call which ultimately underlined the visitors’ miserable night.
Blaze assistant coach Brett Robinson said he was pleased with Blaze’s response, especially following their 6-1 loss in Milton Keynes just 24-hours earlier.
He said: “The coaching staff and players were not happy with Saturday’s performance.
“Tonight (Sunday) we got some early powerplay goals which was a good start. It was a great performance, we feel good about this one.
“The game was a little crazy but not too many of the guys are hurt. That’s Manchester though, we expect that.”
Picture: Scott Wiggins.