ICE HOCKEY: DANNY Stewart hopes to have close to a full roster available this weekend as his Blaze squad prepare to kick start their Elite League campaign.
The Blaze face Manchester Storm on Sunday night at the Skydome Arena, though there are ongoing doubts over the full availability of his roster.
Blaze were missing five players on Sunday night when beating fierce rivals Sheffield Steelers on home ice by eight goals to two.
And coach Stewart admitted he is ‘concerned’ by the amount of players missing from the bench at such an early stage in the season.
Despite this, it didn’t stop Blaze putting eight goals past the Steelers as Luke Ferrara starred with an unquestionable hat-trick.
Stewart said: “We’re not as healthy as we want to be. The good news is the majority of injuries are nothing to be concerned about long term.
“I decided to keep them out on Sunday as the smaller injuries could easily turn into long term.
“The amount of guys missing from the bench is a concern. However I’m confident by this weekend we’ll be close to a full roster.”
Blaze have been involved in several physical pre-season games, none more so than Saturday’s 2-1 loss against the Steelers away from home.
Sheffield won the game 2-1, though there were plenty of on-ice scraps – and Sunday’s clash at the Skydome proved similar as four players dropped the gloves throughout the 60 minute game.
“We’ve put in gutsy performances and displayed character which is a good early sign.
“It’s good to have these early pre-season battles. The guys could’ve took their foot off the gas on Saturday against Sheffield but they played hard.
“I’m pleased for Luke (Ferrara) on scoring his hat-trick and out two netminders have been solid all pre-season.”
Picture: Scott Wiggins Photography.