ICE HOCKEY: DANNY Stewart heaped praise on Ben Lake and Ross Venus after the pair helped Blaze snatch an unlikely pre-season victory against Manchester with a first period shorthanded goal.
Blaze trailed Storm by two goals at the end of the first period last night, but two early second period goals coupled with an overtime penalty shot for Ryan Dingle helped Stewart’s men record their first win of the season.
Several early penalty kills hindered Blaze’s early progress, but Blaze fans left the Skydome in positive spirits after watching their team dig deep to come from behind.
“Combining speed and work ethic creates chances,” said Stewart.
“Venus started the play by beating Storm to the puck. Ben (Lake) then made a nice play before a back door tap.
“I thought Brython (Preece) did a good job too. We were cautious not to overwork Kevin (Nastiuk). Brython’s performance makes us confident that we can give him more minutes.
“He’s a young kid and still needs work but there are some good early signs.”
Though last night’s game was only a pre-season fixture, the word ‘friendly’ avoided the rink with two on-ice scraps taking place in the third period.
But Stewart said the game had a positive spin for his team, insisting it was a good workout for his side.
He added: “Both teams got some work and both coaches were happy with the way the game went. Everybody got good minutes, including both goalies.
“The penalty killing was good for special team practise but we haven’t gone into that stuff yet. We’ve gone through basic routines.
“A couple of the goals we conceeded won’t happen during the season. I’m not concerned about that.
“Manchester will be a physical team. They have good size and they played physical and maybe caught a few of our guys off guard.
“But I liked our fightback. Hitting and fighting is one thing, that’s effective when guys stop going to the areas but we kept driving to the net and was first in on pucks which was good to see.”
Blaze are next in action at home on Sunday night when they host Elite League newcomers Milton Keynes. Face-off is at 5.15pm.