ICE HOCKEY: DEFEATS to Nottingham Panthers and Manchester Storm ensured Coventry Blaze made the worst possible start to their 2017 EIHL campaign.
Despite a positive pre-season, in which Blaze won four of their seven fixtures, Danny Stewart’s men were helpless but to exit the first competitive weekend of the season pointless.
A spirited fightback in Nottingham on Saturday night proved to be in vain as the Panthers held onto a precious one-goal lead.
And that was before Manchester Storm put four goals past Kevin Nastiuk as the Blaze lost 4-1 on home ice against their Patton Conference rivals.
Sunday night’s game at the Skydome Arena against Manchester saw Danick Paquette and Garrett Ladd missing for the Blaze as neither side managed to trouble the scorers during the opening period.
Storm soon corrected their errors from the first period though as they took the lead less than two minutes into the second period when Matt Beca put the visiting side ahead.
Skipper Jordan Pietrus thought he had managed to bring Blaze level mid-way through the game, only for the goal to be washed off by referee Mike Hicks who judged Ryan Dingle to be skating inside the crease at the time of the goal.
Tensions flared minutes later when Blaze’s Dax Lauwers and Storm’s Gerard Hanson dropped the gloves following an offensive move by the Storm, which saw Nastiuk end up in the back of his own net.
Both players received five minute penalties plus a game for fighting.
The added physicality appeared to have little impact on Storm’s mentality though when Beca doubled Storm’s advantage during a five-on-three powerplay.
Marco Vallerand then registered Blaze’s first marker of the night after 45 minutes.
But there was to be no comeback as Ryan Trenz and Mike Hammond scored goals three and four for the Storm.
Blaze are next in action on Saturday night against the Manchester Storm before facing Braehead Clan at home on Sunday (5.15pm).