COVENTRY Blaze’s three-match winning run came to a halt over the weekend, when they suffered consecutive losses to Sheffield Steelers and Fife Flyers.
Sunday’s battle with the Flyers saw them concede two 5-on-3 powerplay goals in a 3-2 loss, which greatly frustrated head coach Danny Stewart, worsened by Blaze’s incompetency during their powerplay.
“There’s no need to over analyse it. They got two 5-on-3 powerplay goals and our powerplay laid an egg and that’s the difference in the game.”
Brett Bulmer was the first to beat Matt Hackett when putting away a smart finish in a one-on-one after just 1.18 on the clock.
Both sides were reduced by a man after Blaze’s defenceman Ivan Puzic, and Flyers’ Danick Gauthier, were involved in a scrap – receiving five minute penalties each.
Then came the first defensive breakdown for Coventry, when Fife struck on the break in a 5-on-3 situation, Carlo Finnuci putting away after Craig Moore’s pass (17.30).
Blaze were forced to come out a lot sharper in the second period, something that worked to their advantage.
Thom Flodqvist popped his shot into the top corner of the net to bring the scores back to a single-goal deficit (25.21), assisted by Alex Nikiforuk – his 40th of the Elite League regular season.
Dillon Lawrence then tied the game just over four minutes later on his return from injury, striking the puck home unassisted for his fifth goal this term.
Coventry had plenty of powerplay opportunities to grab a winner and complete a comeback, the scores level at the end of the second period but with hopes still high of claiming the winner in the third.
Those chances took a blow however, when another 5-on-3 situation emerged, leading Fife to re-gain the advantage.
Evan Bloodoff punished Blaze on 53.16 after Shawn Pauly lost his stick during the play, leaving Coventry with just two skaters in defence.
A seventh and eighth powerplay came into effect towards the culmination of the game, but Fife held out for the points.
It followed the 4-3 loss away to the Sheffield Steelers on Saturday night, where Anthony DeLuca gave his side a deserved early lead for sustained pressure early on (14.51).
Jordan Owens was then given a minimum five-game penalty, after he checked Coventry’s Ben Lake, followed by further fighting with Blaze’s David Clements.
Owens and Clements both received five minute penalties, with Clements receiving an extra 2+10 penalty for instigating the fight.
After emerging with a three-minute powerplay, which they were unable to take advantage of – Blaze fell further behind.
John Armstrong burst behind the Coventry defence, rounding Hackett and putting the puck away (22.53).
Nicolai Bryhnisveen did pull one back on 26.52 for his 11th of the season after a superb assist by Kevin Noble and Dominik Florian.
DeLuca’s second on 31.16 rocked the Blaze, especially when they squandered two further powerplay’s, before Josh McFadden made it 4-1 and seemingly ending the contest (46.35).
Blaze dug in once more though as has become the precedent with the side this season, and their efforts were rewarded when Lake struck his 29th of the season (49.27).
Eric Neiley and Hackett were involved in a fracas, each receiving five minute penalties – Florian minding the net in Hackett’s absence.
Kevin Morris struck from close-range to offer Blaze some hope (57.53), but it was not to be, although not for the want of trying after Steelers’ netminder Jackson Whistle saved 32 of 35 shots that he faced.
Blaze return to action this weekend with another double-header, as they look to bounce back to form.
They first welcome Cardiff Devils to the Skydome Arena on Saturday (7pm), before making the trip up to Scotland against the Dundee Stars (5pm) the following day.