2nd Dec, 2021

ICE HOCKEY - Blaze qualify for Challenge Cup quarter-finals before securing Elite League win

Aaron Sutcliffe 9th Nov, 2021 Updated: 9th Nov, 2021

COVENTRY Blaze qualified for the Challenge Cup quarter-finals after a 2-1 win against Cardiff Devils on Saturday before hammering Dundee Stars 5-1 in the Elite League on Sunday.

 

Finnish forward Janne Kivilahti scored both of the Blaze’s goals in their win against Cardiff to qualify for the last eight – after Manchester Storm were eliminated following a shootout defeat to Nottingham Panthers.

 

And the Blaze would then secure an emphatic win against Dundee after Ryan Penny’s brace was added to by goals from Dane Gibson, Janne Laakkonen and Luke Ferrara in a comprehensive victory.

 

The pair of wins came despite Coventry missing captain Justin Hamonic and David Broll through suspension with Mathew Thompson also sidelined with an injury to leave them short on the bench.

 

Despite losing defenceman Nate Halbert to a game boarding penalty – the Blaze raced into a two-goal lead after Kivilahti stuck at 5.19 and 18.35, scoring the latter on a Devils turnover.

 

Cardiff eventually found a way past Blaze netminder CJ Motte when Trevor Cox scored at 58.39 but Coventry held on to book their place in the quarter-finals – after the Storm failed to beat the Panthers home and away in their two cup matches.

 

Coventry returned to the Skydome Arena on Sunday – having made the trip to Cardiff the previous day – and were again without Hamonic, Broll, Thompson and Halbert after the latter picked up a one-game ban following the boarding penalty against the Devils.

 

Penny opened the scoring at 23.03 before Gibson and Laakkonen struck in quick-succession whilst short-handed at 29.53 and 30.13 respectively to all but seal the points during the second period.

 

Dundee responded when Charlie Combs scored at 31.16 before Penny’s second effort at 40.36 and Ferrara’s clincher at 43.51 completed a fine weekend’s work for the Blaze.

 

Netminder Motte also enjoyed a stunning pair of games as he made 99 saves from 101 shots over the course of the weekend.

 

Head coach Danny Stewart said: “We showed pure character [on Saturday]. We knew coming in that we would have to scrape this one out.

 

“I’m so proud of these guys, I’ll tell you that.

 

“It was another scrappy performance [on Sunday]. Just character. We had key guys step up this weekend.

 

“Everyone was at their best and bought into what we had to do.”

 

The Blaze return to action against Fife Flyers on Saturday, November 13 with the face-off at 7:15pm at the Fife Ice Arena.

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