18th Sep, 2019

Opening weekend of two halves for Coventry Blaze

Ben Tyler 9th Sep, 2019

BLAZE head coach Danny Stewart said his side were right to feel hard done by in Sunday’s 4-1 defeat to Sheffield Steelers, a day after Coventry won their season opener in Yorkshire.

A 6-4 comeback win at the Steelers’ FlyDSA Arena put the Blaze in good stead for their return to home territory the following day, but despite creating more chances, it was Sheffield who were the superior side.

Stewart admits his side were made to rue two defensive errors that lead to goals, but is ultimately pleased with the opening weekend of the Elite Ice Hockey League season.

“I thought there were a lot of positives, a lot of good things,” he said.

“Our penalty kill was immense tonight – Hockey’s a funny game.

“I think we probably created more good scoring chances than we did last night.

“Credit to their goalie, he made some great saves, we made a couple of crucial mistakes and they burned us for it.”

A vibrant start to proceedings led to chances aplenty for both sides, but it was the visitors who struck first on 16.17 through Martin St Pierre’s simple finish at the back pipe, a lead they extended moments into the second period through Robert Dowd’s strike on 23.52.

Former Blaze winger Marco Vallerand punished his old side when forcing the puck home from close range on 31.52, a goal which was eventually awarded after an initial review.

For all of the chances that the hosts created, they were unable to beat Tomas Duba, with John Armstrong sinking the puck into the corner down the other end to make it 4-0 to the visitors on 49.18.

Evan Bloodoff finally registered Blaze’s first home goal of the season on 52.02, but it was too little, too late on the day.

In Saturday’s game, Dowd opened the scoring early on (3.28), moments before David Broll levelled up the scores (7.46).

Anthony DeLuca restored Sheffield’s lead (11.57), prior to Coventry becoming shorthanded.

Despite the man disadvantage, Justin Hamonic hauled Coventry level for a second time, notching his first for the club in the process (25.08).

The Steelers pulled away through Brendan Connolly’s double (25.51, 27.25), while Janne Laakonnen halved the deficit mid-way through the second period (28.17).

Andrew Johnston scored Blaze’s third equaliser of the game (49.32) to set up a thrilling finale, with Charles Corcoran striking the winner (52.07) before Drew Schiestel fired into an empty net (59.50) to seal victory.

Coventry host Fife Flyers on Saturday (7pm), before visiting Guildford Flames on Sunday (6pm).

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