COVENTRY Blaze made it a Milton Keynes double at the weekend after back-to-back victories over the Lightning put the Blaze firmly in the hunt for a play-off spot.
A 6-3 win in Milton Keynes on Saturday was followed by Sunday’s 5-2 victory at the Skydome Arena on Sunday, putting Blaze level on points with Manchester Storm and with two games in hand on their rivals.
Thom Flodqvist’s double helped set the tone for Sunday evening’s contest, which never looked in doubt of swinging Coventry’s way, despite missing the injured duo of Jake Hansen and Justin Hache.
A four minute lead was the perfect start to the afternoon’s play, when Dillon Lawrence struck during a powerplay for his sixth EIHL goal of the season (3.44).
Milton Keynes attempted two efforts on goal which were easy work for Blaze netminder Matt Hackett, before doubling their lead toward’s the period end.
Flodqvist flicked home his first of the night on 18.34, and then made it a brace for his ninth league goal of the season – when latching onto Alex Nikiforuk’s pass and firing home (21.04)
It proved the only goal of the second period, but the Lightning struck the opener in the third frame inside the opening two minutes.
Robbie Baillargeon’s goal (41.27) was quickly forgotten when a quickfire couple of goals in the space of 20 seconds put Blaze firmly out of sight.
Tim Crowder netted his 25th of the season (47.52) from Ben Lake’s assist, before Kevin Morris got in on the act (48.12) when capitalising on a scramble near Lightning’s goal.
MK netted the final goal of the evening through Georgs Golovkov’s solo effort (50.20), scant consolation at most, as Blaze held out for the victory that turns up the pressure on the Storm for the final play-off spot.
Head coach Danny Stewart was pleased with the efforts of his side, and said: “It was hugely needed, I thought we did a good job.
“I thought we played the right way. We got good efforts from everybody through the line-up.”
The 6-3 on Saturday night at Planet Ice Milton Keynes was a much-closer affair, with the narrative reversed when MK opened inside the opening four minutes through Michael Fine (3.43), capitalising on missed powerplay opportunities by Blaze.
It took a man advantage for Coventry to level through Nikiforuk (23.39), who then provided the assist for Crowder’s go-ahead goal on 36.17.
Tim Wallace, player/coach at the Lightning, levelled it up at 2-2 at the end of frame two.
But Blaze ran riot in the third.
Luke Ferrara struck the first of four unanswered goals (42.45), followed by Lake (46.00), Crowder for his second of the night (48.34) and Ross Venus (58.38).
Baillargeon’s consolation on 58.48 took the scoreline 6-3, but far too late to overturn the deficit, as Blaze enjoyed a four-point weekend.
Blaze play three successive games this weekend, starting with a double header on Friday (7pm) and Saturday (7pm) at the SSE Arena in Belfast against the Belfast Giants, before welcoming Fife Flyers on Sunday (5:15pm).
Supporters are reminded that Sunday’s game at the Skydome Arena is a non season ticket game.