28th Jun, 2022

Timely wins prove crucial for Blaze as coach Stewart insists his side must focus on their own game

DANNY Stewart has insisted his Blaze side must focus on their own game despite being involved in a tough battle for the final EIHL playoff spot against Dundee.

Coventry earned a crucial win against bottom club Edinburgh Capitals on Tuesday night at the Skydome, lifting them into eighth place – one-point above Dundee, who have one game in hand.

Despite going down by a goal early on, Blaze literally fought their way back into the game as enforcer Garrett Klotz punched former NHL skater Jaroslav Hertl to the ice following a nasty hit on Ashley Tait.

That was after Robin Bergman brought the Blaze level at 9.46, which was later followed by a marker from Matt Marquardt who put the Blaze ahead after 22 minutes.

Further goals for Pietrus and TJ Syner wrapped up the two points for the Blaze, who face a tough away trip against Cardiff on Saturday before taking on Manchester at home on Sunday.

Though Blaze have now won their last two games, coach Stewart told The Observer it’s important for his side to focus on the next period and shift that faces them.

He said: “The boys are aware of the playoff situation and we have talked about it.

“Our plan is to focus on the next period and shift that faces us – in our last two games we’ve done a great job of that.

“There’s a lot of hockey left and the race for that final playoff spot will go down to the wire.

“Dundee possibly have the better fixtures but we have to worry about our own.”

The two timely wins against Nottingham and Edinburgh have come at a crucial time for Stewart’s men after Dundee secured a four-point-weekend when facing northern rivals Fife in two weekend fixtures.

With two games in hand though, the race to secure the eighth and final playoff spot is very much on – with Blaze left with seven, arguably, tougher league games than Dundee.

Stewart said: “Our wins against Nottingham and Edinburgh are massive, if we didn’t win those two hockey games we would’ve been facing a big uphill battle.

“We’re hoping to have Liam back on the bench this weekend for our game against Cardiff, we’re just waiting for him to confirm that though he’s 99 per cent sure he will be icing.

“Stewy (Brian Stewart) picked up a little niggle in his back but it’ll be worked on, he’s played a lot of minutes for us this year.

“At this point in the season we don’t have to spent too long on the ice, all that’s necessary is to go over a couple of things, build up some sweat and work on special team stuff.”

One element of coach Stewart’s game he can rely on is the support from Blaze fans, who have turned out in record numbers this season.

He said: “Our crowd has done an incredible job this year, with a couple of good results in our last few games I’m hoping they’ll continue to provide the support we always receive – they’re our seventh man on the ice.”

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