COVENTRY BLAZE sent shockwaves through the Motorpoint Arena on Saturday afternoon as they comprehensively beat league runners up Cardiff 6-2 to advance to the playoff grand final.
Coventry were helped by a hat-trick from recent recruit Chris Bruton who slotted two past British netminder Bowns in the opening period, before a well worked third goal towards the end of the game.
Following a tense two-legged quarter final affair against Sheffield Steelers last weekend, Coventry travelled to Nottingham in the knowledge that they had already re-wrote the history books by becoming the first team to finish 8th in the regular season and still make the playoff finals weekend.
Chuck Weber’s men made the perfect start to their semi-final tie as Chris Bruton managed to tap home a scrambled puck to put Coventry 1-0 up after just three minutes.
Incredibly, the Blaze then netted two goals in ten seconds to extend their lead to 3-0 following markers from firstly Brett Robinson, and then Cale Tanaka.
A Cardiff timeout failed to twist any luck for the Welsh side as Chris Bruton scored his second of the afternoon at 16.44 to put the Blaze 4-0 ahead shortly before the conclusion of the first period.
Coventry saw out their first penalty kill of the afternoon in dominant style, spending much of the two minutes in Cardiff’s defensive zone.
Josh Godfrey then took full advantage of a parried save from Devils netminder Ben Bowns to extend Coventry’s lead to five goals.
A frustrated Andrew Hotham then dropped Brett Robinson in an attempt to revitalise any chance the Devils had – both received four minutes for slashing and roughing.
Two goals in the concluding two minutes of play from the Devils provided little consolation as Coventry secured a dominant 6-2 victory and will now face either Nottingham or Fife in tomorrow’s grand final.
Speaking to The Observer after the game, Blaze head coach Chuck Weber said: “Our first period today was incredible – similar to last weekend against Sheffield.
“The boys were executing their play with enthusiasm and energy and I couldn’t be more proud of them.
“Being able to stay out of the penalty box helped, we moved our feet and kept our sticks down whilst playing in their zone.
“So far this season we’re level with Fife and Nottingham is always a battle so it doesn’t matter who we face tomorrow, we’ll take it as it comes.”
Blaze man of the match Chris Bruton added: “This afternoon was super special.
“The crowd was unreal and we had the momentum to play well.
“I credit all the guys, I though Boris in particular played well and used his body and stick efficiently.
“It was different to see an empty net at one end of the arena still with 15 minutes to play, that’s definitely something I’ve never experienced before.
“Who we play tomorrow doesn’t matter, we’re excited and we’ll rest up earlier than the team playing second.”
Picture credit: Scott Wiggins