18th Feb, 2020

Stewart praises all-round team performance as Giants sink to five-goal Blaze loss

ICE HOCKEY: DANNY Stewart praised an all-round improved performance against Belfast Giants on Sunday night as Blaze cruised to a comfortable 6-1 win.

Blaze jumped up to third in the EIHL table following the win, recording four wins and four losses from their opening eight games.

Two goals inside the opening minute for Marc-Olivier Vallerand set the Blaze up nicely for the remainder of the game.

Skipper Jordan Pietrus added Blaze’s third in the second period while Ross Venus, Garrett Ladd, and Gaelan Patterson added a trio more in the concluding 20 minutes of the game.

“I’m thrilled with the result,” said Blaze boss Danny Stewart.

“In earlier games this season we weren’t clinical and we wouldn’t find the net, consequently we ended up on the wrong side of results.

“To score as many goals as we did this weekend is good to see.

“We’ve talked about being more direct with play and patient too. Other games teams have caught us out.”

The Blaze were boosted by Vallerand’s two goals inside the opening minute of the game, something which the coach has never recalled happening before.

He said: “It was a dream start. We played well in the opening ten minutes, though took our foot of the gas for the last ten minutes of the opening period. That gave them space to get back into the game.

“From the second period onwards our performance was great.

“To have a result like that our goalie has to come up big. Kevin (Nastiuk) had a great game. Belfast are a great club and they have a good squad.”

Stewart was also quick to praise the discipline of his side.

Blaze were shorthanded for more than half of a disappointing middle period against Guildford on Saturday night. But a lack of reaction towards officials’ calls saw Blaze skate much of Sunday’s game with a full bench.

Stewart said: “Our discipline was good. After the second period I was vocal about ensuring they forget about what was out of our control.

“On Saturday we shot ourselves in the foot and it cost us the game. On Sunday we stuck to the game plan and didn’t get caught up in calls against us or non-calls. And then we closed out the third period well.

“Earning two wins has helped. I said to James (Pease) before the game about another solid atmosphere. The building was full and the guys feed off that.

“We want to make the Skydome a tough place to play.”


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