8th Apr, 2020

Blaze's powerplay game crucial in record run - says Stewart

Ben Tyler 2nd Mar, 2020

BLAZE head coach Danny Stewart has paid tribute to his side after Coventry confirmed their spot in the Elite League play-offs after a four-point weekend.

Saturday’s emphatic 7-3 triumph against the Glasgow Clan on home ice was followed by a 4-3 shoot-out win away to Nottingham Panthers on Sunday, keeping Blaze fifth and within touching distance of the sides above them.

Stewart pointed to the importance of Coventry’s strength on the powerplay in their success so far this season, a facet of their game which has helped them rack up 23 wins.

“Overall, at this time of year, it’s important to just get results,” he said.

“But as coaches, we still need to focus on the process.

“Powerplays have been a big part of our success this calendar year, it’s a big boost for momentum when you’re down a goal and you get yourself back into the game because of it.”

In winning their previous two games, the Blaze have now racked up a club-record run of taking points from 15 games in succession – winning 12 and taking points from three defeats in overtime or on penalties.

“Any time you can put together a string of results like that you put yourself in a good position,” Stewart added. “It’s a good feeling.

“Everyone’s enjoying coming to the rink every day and I know the fanbase and the atmosphere is buzzing.

“We’ve got to make sure we keep working the way we are to keep this going now.”

In Sunday’s latest success, Blaze overcame two Nottingham powerplays to take the lead at 19.05, courtesy of captain Drew Schiestel’s shot that was arrowed into the net.

The next goal arrived on 34 minutes in favour of the Panthers, as Julian Talbot fired a leveller to the delight of the Motorpoint Arena faithful.

Parity did not remain for long however, as Ross Venus sent his side back in front moments later at 35.25.

The Panthers were undeterred and, after going in 2-1 down at the end of the second period, levelled within five minutes of the third – tying the game through Georgs Golovkovs’ deflected strike (45.12).

With less than two minutes to play, the comeback was complete and the hosts were in front when Brett Perlini buried a shot into the net (58.16) after being left open in a few yards of space.

Coventry hit back just over a minute later when Janne Laakkonen took advantage of a powerplay, following a foul by Nottingham’s Gui Lepine, to level with 36 seconds remaining.

While no overtime winner was found in the additional five minutes, Blaze were spurred on to find the win in the shoot-out.

Schiestel and Venus were both successful with their opening penalty shots, while a save from C.J Motte to deny Golovkovs left Laakkonen with the opportunity to score and claim Coventry’s second overtime win this term.

In the previous night’s high-scoring win, it was the Glaswegian visitors who took the lead when Rasmus Bjerrum backhanded a shot past Motte at 7.19.

Luke Ferrara’s powerplay equaliser at 11.47 allowed Coventry to go in front when David Broll netted with 48 seconds remaining in the first period (19.12).

That lead was stretched when Charles Corcoran and Venus netted at 22.50 and 33.05 respectively, prior to Chad Rau’s goal which brought the scoreline to 4-2 (38.08).

There was still time for Dillon Lawrence to restore the three-goal cushion at 39.38, following a move involving Justin Hache and Venus.

After a minute and 29 seconds of the restart, the Blaze were out of sight when Bloodoff crashed home a shot at 41.29, followed by Venus’ second of the night on 46.46.

While the Clan wrapped up the scoring through Matt Beca’s solo strike (54.25), the result was never in doubt after Blaze recovered from the early setback.

On Saturday, Coventry visit seventh-placed Manchester Storm (7pm), before welcoming Dundee Stars in ninth to the Skydome on Sunday evening (5.30pm).

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