RYAN DINGLE’S double completed a four-point weekend for Coventry Blaze, putting them just one point behind Braehead Clan in the race for the final play-off spot.
With the Glasgow side picking up a point in an overtime defeat against high-flying Manchester Storm, Blaze looked to take the opportunity to cut the gap without the suspended Danick Paquette and injured Dorian Peca.
Gaelan Patterson opened the scoring against Guildford Flames with his tenth of the Elite League season (12.06), finishing well from Marco Vallerand on the powerplay, the first of three assists for Blaze’s Man of the Match.
The game was tied quick, Brett Ferguson who was picked as Flames’ best player registering for 1-1 (13.00).
Dingle’s first came on 18.17, the American who just loves to score goals celebrating wildly before Flames grabbed another equaliser.
It came through Brit Ben Campbell, disappointingly for Blaze just 13 seconds before the opening period buzzer (19.47).
Following the interval came an unusual period with no penalties, the Blaze scoring the only goal in the five-on-five play.
Dingle with his 19th of the season and what turned out to be the game-winner (34.25).
With Coventry taking a strong defensive approach to protect their lead, there were no further goals in the third and final period, however, it wasn’t without incident.
At 50.26, frustration for Vallerand boiled over as he dropped the gloves for the first time in Coventry blue with Flames’ Kevin Phillips.
The scrap became a spirited affair, bringing the Skydome crowd to their feet as the two received five minutes each for fighting.
Tomas Nechala was then to pick up a 2+10 checking from behind penalty before former Blaze goalie Brian Stewart was pulled from the Guildford net for the extra skater.
The Blaze were to hold firm, securing a 3-2 win, a four point weekend and cutting the gap to the all-important eighth place to one point with four games to go.
Head coach Danny Stewart said: “At this time of year you’ve just got to find a way to win hockey games.
“It was frustrating to give them the two goals back right after we’d scored in the first but in the second we got back to our game, got pucks in and a lot of zone time and that gave us a lot of momentum.
“We then got a nice play from Vally to Dings which took us into the third and I really liked how we played to close out the game.
“Just chipping pucks and we had three above the puck all period and didn’t give them much.”
The win over Flames followed Blaze’s 4-2 success over Dundee Stars.
Ben Lake was the Blaze hero, scoring on a breakaway with less than two minutes remaining before wrapping up the victory with an empty-net goal.