16th Dec, 2018

Coventry Blaze left with much to ponder

Craig Gibbons 16th Nov, 2018

COVENTRY Blaze had a night to forget on Sunday as they fell to a 4-2 defeat to Glasgow Clan.

Alex Nikiforuk opened the scoring with a rocket shot past Clan goalie Joel Rumpel (4.12).

Then came three unanswered for Glasgow with Rasmus Bjerrum (8.15), Gerard Hanson (12.20) and Craig Peacock on the powerplay (14.44) giving the away side a commanding lead after 20 minutes.

The second saw no further scoring and whether it be tiredness from a long journey back from Scotland the night before or not, Blaze’s passing game became awry, meaning the home side struggled to regain any momentum.

The third period felt much the same with Blaze failing to make the most of two powerplay opportunities.

With Scott Tanski making it 4-1 on 56.49, the game was over but Tim Crowder (58.36) did grab a consolation to complete the scoring.

Blaze head coach Danny Stewart said: “For the first time this season we weren’t at our best for a weekend.

“We just never seemed to get our legs going or have that compete level.

“Credit to Glasgow as they won a lot of 50-50s and second pucks, but we just never got going.

“It wasn’t through a lack of trying but we just couldn’t get into a rhythm.”

Clan had got the better of Blaze on Saturday night too in a narrow 5-4 victory, thanks to an overtime strike from Matt Beca.

Blaze travelled the 312 miles without Shawn Pauly, Ross Venus and Miroslav Kopriva through injury.

Czech forward Dominik Florian remained in the line-up and Miika Wiikman, who returned to action last Sunday following a long time out, started in goal.

Nikiforuk opened the scoring for Coventry on the powerplay at 3.34.

Glasgow then tied things through Scott Pitt on 12.28.

The game wasn’t tied for long, though, as in-form Canadian Kelin Ainsworth registered (13.33) to give the away side a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.

At 26.46, defenceman Chris Joyaux struck from the blue-line to put Coventry 3-1 up.

Brendan Connolly (29.46) pulled Clan back before Pitt notched his second of the night on the powerplay to make it 3-3 (32.34).

Before the middle period was done, blue-liner Justin Hache nosed Blaze back in front on the powerplay (37.48).

After Scott Tanski rattled Wiikman’s crossbar, Clan grabbed a third goal on the powerplay, with Josh Gratton adding to his two earlier assists to level things up once more.

With the buzzer sounding for 60 minutes, both teams got set for three-on-three overtime.

For the third consecutive time in the extra period, Blaze were subjected to defeat when Beca beat Wiikman just 26 seconds in to secure the win for the hosts.

Stewart said: “It was entertaining for the fans but I don’t think we were very good.

“I felt we were sloppy at times and came off the bus a bit flat.

“I don’t feel like we made them work for their goals on the powerplay but we squeaked out a point which was probably more than we deserved.”

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