ICE HOCKEY: A QUARTET of one-goal losses stung Coventry Blaze over the festive period as they lost four games by the smallest margin.
A shootout loss against Cardiff on Boxing Day was followed by an equally heartbreaking 3-2 loss at home against the Devils just 24hours later.
Nottingham Panthers then ended their eight game losing run by beating Blaze 4-3 on home ice before Corey Neilson’s men edged out Blaze 2-1 at the Skydome on New Year’s Day.
The four losses dropped Blaze out of the playoff frame as Danny Stewart’s men now sit ninth in the EIHL table.
But the boss revealed he was pleased with his side’s performances over Christmas, and he now wants to focus on igniting Blaze’s playoff push.
He said: “We entered Christmas shortbenched with players (Edgars Bebris and Patrik Moisio) leaving through nothing other than wanting more ice time, and that was something we couldn’t offer.
“We were playing good hockey before the Cardiff double header and that continued.
“We were one blinder of a save away from stealing the game against the Devils on the road and we played well at home the following night.
“Against Nottingham we found a way back into the game on Saturday before one shot through a screen proved the difference.
“Then tonight (Monday) we played well and fought until the final buzzer.”
Monday’s New Year’s Day loss marked the 12th game Blaze missed out on this season, and Stewart admitted his men will have to be clinical in front of goal in 2018.
He said: “It’s a fine line between winning and losing.
“Being clinical and making one less mistake can often be the difference. It is frustrating to lose by fine margins, but it’s our goal to find a way to turn these losses into wins.”
Blaze are next in action this Saturday away from home against Milton Keynes before they welcome to Lightning back to the Skydome on Sunday night (5.15pm) for the return fixture.
Games against Guildford and Fife (13th & 14th) follow before Danny Stewart’s men jet off to Belfast for a double header on January 19 and 20.
A home clash against Manchester immediately follows on the 21st before Cardiff Devils provide the opposition on the 27th and 28th – rounding off a hectic month for Blaze.
Photo: Scott Wiggins.
Below: Highlights from Blaze’s 3-2 loss against Cardiff.