17th Nov, 2019

Stewart upbeat despite pre-season losses to Panthers

Ben Tyler 27th Aug, 2019

HEAD coach Danny Stewart says some of the early signs are positive, despite his Coventry Blaze side opening their pre-season campaign with successive defeats to the Nottingham Panthers at the weekend.

Blaze went down 4-2 in Saturday’s encounter at the Panthers’ Motorpoint Arena home, before losing 3-1 in the first fixture at the Skydome Arena this term on Sunday – despite taking the lead in both.

Stewart admits improvements need to be made, but accepts his side put in two good showings in the friendly encounters.

“It was a good workout for us,” he said.

“We have had four skates together as a team and due to unforeseen circumstances had to cancel training on Friday due to ice issues.

“There were some pre-season mistakes and we fatigued a bit at times, it’s going to take a bit of time for us to gel, but I saw some good things.

“We skated well, competed well and didn’t give up much.”

Finnish forward Janne Laakkonen fired the opener in the first game, before Adam Deutsch levelled things up for the Panthers.

Nottingham went in front just before half time through Brett Bulmer’s shot past Jamie Phillips, followed by Ollie Betteridge and Sam Herr goals to extend the hosts’ lead further.

Charles Corcoran then found his way onto the scoresheet for the first time in a Coventry shirt to wrap up the scoring.

In Sunday’s encounter, Laakkonen once again sent the Blaze in front, only for Mark Matheson and William Quist strikes to turn the game on its head.

Jordan Hedley denied Gui Lepine from extending the lead, but was unable to keep out Herr from wrapping up a second victory in as many days for the Panthers.

Blaze face a double header at the Skydome Arena this week, hosting Manchester Storm tomorrow night (Wednesday, 7.30pm), before a meeting with Guildford Flames on Saturday (7pm).

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