COVENTRY Blaze go into today’s second bout in as many days with the Cardiff Devils on the back of a 4-5 penalty shoot-out defeat to Milton Keynes Lightning at the Skydome Arena.
The Blaze went ahead despite the impressive Patrick Killeen putting in a superb performance in goal, Norwegian defenceman Nicolai Bryhnisveen beating him early (1.37), but despite the visitors only attempting three shots in the opening 20 minutes, they proved to be every bit clinical in front of goal.
Three of the four attempts would prove successful for the Lightning, Robbie Baillargeon (8.36) in between Radek Meidl’s double (1.49 and 12.54) as MK took control of the match.
Killeen was forced off the ice thanks to an equipment issue, with Ben Lake exploiting replacement goalkeeper Adam Goss’ lack of adjustment to the game during the powerplay (17.10).
But Goss would make amends when producing a superb stop to deny Tim Crowder, keeping the score at 2-3 before Killeen’s return in the second period.
A stalemate ensued in the second period before scoring resumed in the third courtesy of Luke Ferrara (44.44) and Shawn Pauly’s powerplay goal (46.04) in quickfire time to nudge Coventry ahead.
Owen Griffiths levelled for the Lightning (54.40) to ensure the scoreline remained deadlocked after 60 minutes, much to the gratitude of their vocal travelling support, but despite plenty of opportunities during the 3-on-3 in overtime, it would have to take a shootout to decide the tie.
Michael Fine and player/coach Tim Wallace ensured MK started the shootout strong by clinically putting away their two opportunities, Alex Nikiforuk responded for Coventry but Georgs Golovkovs dispatched the fifth shot to edge it for Milton Keynes and take the extra point – despite Coventry out-shooting the Lightning 40-21.
Speaking on the narrow defeat, head coach Danny Stewart was made to rue poor finishing, admitting: “I thought we did a lot of good things tonight, but the mistakes we made were big mistakes and ended up in the back of our net.
“We are at the half-way mark now and too many times we’ve sat here shaking our heads, saying how their goalie played well.
“We’ve got to find ways to get heavier on our sticks, get pucks to the hard areas and go there. I don’t think we’re doing enough of that and that’s the difference between winning and losing hockey games.”
Tonight’s fixture gets underway at the Devils’ Cardiff Ice Arena at 7pm.