HEAD coach Danny Stewart praised his Coventry Blaze team for their “best” start to a game this season in the 6-4 triumph over Manchester Storm.
Sunday night’s victory at the Skydome Arena atoned for a 5-1 defeat the previous night in the Welsh capital against Cardiff Devils.
But even with a second win in the Elite Ice Hockey League assured, Stewart admits he was still left sweating in the dugout.
“It was a stressful night,” he said.
“I thought we played our best period of the year in the first, it was a game that we could have easily let slip away from us.
“The biggest thing for me was the six-minute kill where we battled, competed, and found a way through it to win a hockey game.”
Janne Laakkonen (6.41) opened the scoring on the powerplay after a bright start, until Coventry were pegged back by Layne Ulmer’s solo run through on goal, which ended with a run around netminder Jamie Phillips and a simple finish into the net (11.00).
Charles Corcoran resumed Blaze’s lead (14.45) minutes later after finishing from Johnny Curran’s pass, while Luke Ferrara promptly added a third (16.28).
The Storm kept within touching distance at the close of the first period, halving the deficit courtesy of Mario Puskarich’s shot ten seconds before the whistle sounded for time following a mistake by the hosts.
That error initially proved decisive, when Tyson Fawcett levelled the scores at 29.11 with the first goal of the second period.
Coventry had to show their mettle to see out six minutes of the contest without David Clements and Corcoran after separate incidents.
Their resolve paid dividends five minutes into the final period when Ross Venus skated through on goal to finish past Matt Ginn (45.38), though Finlay Ulrick (47.20) quickly dampened momentum.
But fortune favoured the Blaze, as Chris Pohlkamp (51.54) and Laakkonen (58:22) struck twice late on to secure victory.
David Broll’s goal on 11.02 had given Coventry the lead away in Cardiff, but that was as good as it got for the Devils – who hit back with five unanswered goals to win the EIHL Challenge Cup clash.
Blaze visit Guildford Spectrum on Saturday (6pm) in the Challenge Cup, before hosting Cardiff Devils in the league on Sunday (5.30pm).