ICE HOCKEY: VOCAL support from a large Skydome crowd was praised by Coventry Blaze coach Danny Stewart as his side cruised to a 5-1 win against Sheffield on Sunday night.
After losing out to the Steelers on Saturday, Stewart’s men reversed their fortunes in a Skydome thriller – which ended in five Blaze skaters contributing to the club’s goal tally.
A lively start to the game helped Blaze secure three early goals, before further markers in the second and third period sealed the much-needed win.
Speaking to The Observer after Sunday’s game, Stewart said: “People will say we gave them something to cheer about. But right from before the game even started you could feel the atmosphere. And the players feel that too.
“It shouldn’t be underestimated how much of an impact that can have on their game.”
The coach even admitted Sunday night’s opening period was the best his side has played all season.
“The first period was our best period of hockey all season,” said Stewart.
“It put us in a good position.
“We gave up a little in the opening ten minutes of the second period but our fourth goal was a big one. That got us back on track and our third period was solid.
“I’m happy we managed to get the puck in the net. We had plays on Saturday night that were similar to our performance tonight (Sunday) but we just couldn’t find the net.”
Netminder Kevin Nastiuk was also in Stewart’s good books.
The Canadian has fell to heavy criticism in recent days following a poor run of results for Blaze, contrary to the club’s positive pre-season campaign.
But Stewart said: “It was unfortunate to give up a goal at the end but I don’t think Kevin (Nastiuk) will be too concerned.
“We had three lines that produced and having five different goalscorers helps, you need that to be good in this league.
“To turn Sheffield over is pleasing.”
There’s little time for rest in the Blaze camp though with a crucial Challenge Cup game against Guildford on Saturday before travelling back home to face Belfast at the Skydome Arena on Saturday night (5.15pm).
Stewart revealed he will approach this weekend’s fixtures as he did last week.
Talking about the build up to the two Sheffield games, Stewart said: “If I compared myself waking up on Sunday morning to Monday of last week it was completely different.
“The Monday after our two weekend losses was a long day looking back at video and being angry at our performance.
“We had to show the guys the mistakes we made so we completed a video session and watched a lot of clips.
“We talked about being more direct with the puck and we were.
“We’ll approach this week like any other. We’ve got to be direct and have an important game against Guildford in the Challenge Cup before playing at home to Belfast.
“There are no easy games.”
Picture: Scott Wiggins Photography.