Coventry Blaze’s 2015/16 season was a slow-burner throughout - eventually catching fire in the playoffs before being finally extinguished in the last game of the Elite League season.
Following their surprise playoff success of the previous season, Coventry had moved quickly in the summer of 2015 to secure arguably their two most important team members - Head Coach Chuck Weber, who returned for a full season in charge, and netminder Brian Stewart who signed a new two-year deal with the club. For the first team signed in his vision, Weber, together with Head of Hockey Operations James Pease, pooled together a mix of new imports to the UK and some standout performers from other clubs in the Elite League. However, the first half of the season saw them struggling to click, as a consistent run of good results and goal scoring form proved frustratingly hard to come by and the club sat on the foot of the Elite League table for several weeks
The notable moments had come in the Continental Cup third round when the Blaze traveled to Poland. Two confidence boosting wins once again left Blaze with a winner-takes-all final match against the host team. With just 15 minutes of a tetchy game against GKS Tychy remaining Coventry led by two goals, only for the Poles incessant pressure to break the resistance and three unanswered goals put them through to the next round instead.
In the final two months of the league campaign, team and individual form picked up, thanks in part to some well-timed roster changes – with Jordan Pietrus, who arrived in October, ending up one of the club’s leading goal scorers, and Chris Bruton, who arrived in a swap deal from Braehead, adding grit and skill on a potent line with revitalized top point scorer Brett Robinson. Coventry did enough to earn the eighth and final playoff spot by edging out the reformed Manchester Storm franchise.
The post-season saw Coventry defying the odds in their efforts to retain their playoff crown - firstly in the two-leg quarter final stage against the number one seeded league-winners Sheffield. By the end of two periods in the second leg the teams were tied on aggregate, but it was Coventry who held their nerve and scored twice in the final period to progress to the Finals weekend. In the semi finals the second seed Cardiff Devils were no match for a Blaze team on a roll, with a four goal opening period and a hat-trick from Bruton leading Coventry to a 6-2 win and a place in a second successive final. The side from the Skydome left everything on the ice in the last game of the season but it wasn’t to be this time, as the Nottingham Panthers ran out 2-0 winners and ended Coventry’s valiant efforts to retain the trophy.
Brian Stewart nominated for Elite Awards ‘Netminder of the Year’.
Brian Stewart elected to Second All Star team at Elite League Awards.