22nd Nov, 2019

Frantic schedule has caught up with Blaze, says Stewart

Ben Tyler 5th Nov, 2019

BLAZE head coach Danny Stewart believes a hectic start to the season led to two fatigued performances from his side against Belfast Giants.

Coventry faced the current Elite Ice Hockey League holders twice at the weekend, going down 4-1 at the SSE Arena on Saturday, before stumbling to a 6-3 defeat at the Skydome Arena on Sunday night.

Assessing the double header, which put an end to a four-match winning streak in the league, Stewart said: “It was a tough weekend, I don’t think we played bad hockey but just not enough for periods of time.

“We made a few too many mistakes and looked tired.

“We’ve played six games in 11 days against teams who play heavy hockey, and it caught up with us.”

In the first encounter of the weekend, forward Ben Lake was the scourge of his former side with a goal and a man-of-the-match performance to boot.

After two Belfast players were sent to the sin bin in the early stages, Lake popped up at 13.28 to break the deadlock with the only goal in the opening period.

Liam Morgan (27.44) made it 2-0 approaching the mid-way point of the second period after sweeping home from Lewis Hook’s cross.

Blaze brought themselves back into contention less than two minutes later after Matt Pohlkamp (29.27) found the net from Dillon Eichstadt’s initial shot, but a third Belfast goal from Jordan Smotherman (36.17) was a killer blow.

Lake played a crucial role in Belfast’s fourth goal at 47.35 to put the result beyond doubt, when racing away on the counter attack and supplying Curtis Hamilton with a simple finish to complete the scoring.

Another fast start was made by the Giants in Sunday’s game, with Kevin Raine (2.57) this time the man to enter the Northern Irish side into the lead.

David Broll ensured an immediate response at 6.12, finishing from Matt Pohlkamp’s lay-off, with the same combination and outcome occurring at 8.15 to put the hosts in front.

Paul Swindlehurst (10.41) levelled the scores with a long-range strike, while Raine (13.33) put Belfast back in front with his second of the night.

Blaze were notably much quicker to react to falling behind and tied the game at 3-3 when Pohlkamp’s attempted pass was inadvertently diverted into the net by a Belfast player’s skate at 14.02.

But as was the case in Saturday’s fixture, Lake struck once more (18.52) to end a goal-laden opening period.

The second period brought no further goals, while the final twenty was dominated by the visitors, who struck twice through Patrick Mullen (47.02) and Jordan Smotherman (49.03) to secure victory.

Coventry Blaze host Guildford Flames in the Challenge Cup on Saturday (7pm) before welcoming Glasgow Clan in a league clash on Sunday (5.30pm).

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