A WONDER goal from Blaze forward TJ Syner with just minutes remaining earned Coventry Blaze a dramatic penalty shots win, keeping playoff hopes alive.
Blaze were staring defeat in the face with less than three minutes to go when Syner spectacularly brought the Blaze level against Manchester Storm at the Skydome on Sunday night, despite trailing 2-1 for the majority of the game.
Neither side could break the deadlock in overtime, forcing the game to penalty shots.
Two goals from Storm’s Dziurzynski and Heatley put plenty of pressure on the Blaze bench, though Bergman and Robinson scored themselves taking the tie to sudden death.
A missed shot from either side was followed by a marker from Matt Marquardt, meaning Storm forward Dziurzynski had to score to keep his side in the game.
A sprawled Brian Stewart made a crucial pad save, earning the Blaze a huge two points.
Coach Danny Stewart described the dramatic win as a ‘season saver’ – with Blaze now three points clear of playoff rivals Dundee, though the Scottish side has three games in hand.
Speaking after Sunday’s win, Stewart said: “I said to James (Pease) that win probably saved our season.
“If we didn’t find a way through that game we would’ve been three points down on Manchester and they have three games in hand.
“We were disappointing in the first two periods and failed to manage the puck well.
“We were sloppy, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many poor passes – it wasn’t pretty.
“We played better in the third period and our penalty kill was very good, though on the flip side our powerplay struggled. We’ve got plenty to work on.”
Sunday’s win was made even bigger following Blaze’s biggest defeat of the season on Saturday night when going down 8-0 to league leaders Cardiff in the Welsh capital.
Four goals inside 24 minutes prompted netminder Brian Stewart to be replaced by Renny Marr.
The change did little to inspire the Blaze bench though as Layne Ulmer, Andrew Lord, Luke Piggott and Denny Kearney making it a magnificant eight in-front of a sold-out home crowd.
Stewart said: “In parts of Sunday’s game we were still mentally affected from the night before.
“The guys were low on confidence and they were nervous.
“They gained valuable experience from Sunday’s game though by getting through it and earning the win, every game has so much riding on it now.”