28th Jun, 2022

Mixed emotions for Coventry Blaze

Craig Gibbons 23rd Feb, 2018

BLAZE picked up another vital three points over the weekend in their bid to secure an Elite Hockey League play-off spot.

On a night where the career of all-time appearance leader for the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze Russell Cowley was celebrated, another former player Matt Marquardt, now with opponents Sheffield Steelers ruined the fairy tale ending on Sunday.

After an emotional ceremony which saw the number 17 jersey of Cowley retired and raised to the Skydome roof, the Blaze got off to a magnificent start taking a 3-0 lead.

The visitors though fought back with Marquardt grabbing the game-tying and then overtime winner.

Following victory in Braehead the night before, the point and three overall on the weekend was a welcome return as Coventry now sit four behind Clan in the eighth and final play-off spot with a game in hand.

Top-scorer Marco Vallerand opened the scoring (4.58) before Gaelan Patterson, the usual defenceman again playing forward to cover for injuries making it 2-0 (11.05).

The Blaze absentees included former Sheffield forward Luke Ferrara and imports Adam Courchaine and Dorian Peca.

As the game-clock hit 17.00, a huge Skydome crowd rose to their feet for a minutes applause to thank Cowley who proudly acknowledged the reception from the SkyLounge with family and friends.

At 23.32 on the powerplay, Vallerand made it 3-0, leaving the Steelers stunned.

Shortly after, Patterson thought he’d made it four, ringing the iron of Ervins Mustukovs net, the effort unable to be reviewed due to technical issues with the goal-line-technology.

With long-time coach of Cowley, Paul Thompson now with Sheffield describing his sides performance to that point as “awful”, the fightback began through Eric Neiley on 28.12.

On the powerplay, Great Britain defenceman Ben O’Connor made it 3-2 (31.51), their only success from six attempts, Blaze going 1/4 overall.

With another British blue-liner David Clements receiving a controversial delay of game call in the final ten minutes, Coventry came up with a big penalty-kill, disappointingly though conceding the game-tying goal courtesy of Marquardt just 9 seconds later (52.29).

With both teams taking a point at the end of regulation time (3-3), the game went to sudden-death 3-on-3 overtime.

Despite Blaze controlling the early going, the sucker-punch on Cowley’s special night came from former teammate Marquardt (62.27) to send Sheffield home with the two points.

Blaze return to Conference (Patton) action this weekend, taking on Guildofrd Flames on Saturday (7pm face off) then Milton Keynes Lightning on Sunday (5.30pm face off).

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