Tait: First period in Nottingham was key

Ash Tait PO
Captain Ashley Tait felt the first period of their Elite League play-off quarter-final series with Nottingham Panthers laid the platform for their successful passage to the finals weekend.
Goals from Ryan O'Marra and Ben Arnt (powerplay) had Blaze 2-0 up inside 11 minutes, with the first leg at the National Ice Centre eventually finishing level at 3-3 on Saturday.
Blaze made another strong start to the return tie at the Skydome on Sunday, with Tait and Craig Cescon netting in the first six minutes before prevailing 2-1 and 5-4 on aggregate.
It set up a semi-final with Belfast Giants on Saturday in a repeat of the 2013 last-four encounter which the Northern Irish side won 5-1.
Tait, who led Blaze to play-off glory in their Grand Slam-winning 2004/05 campaign, said: "We knew going into the first period in Nottingham we had to be ready and get off to a good start.
"We had to set our stall out. So many times in Nottingham you are under the cosh from the start and we had to make sure that was not the case.
"Even being two up, you know they will come at you and they did. But, as [coach] Chuck [Weber], said 'we were bending a bit but we did not break'.
"We had another good start at home, we were blocking shots and playing desperate but our work-rate and work ethic was there and we got rewarded for that.
"Our first objective was to get to the play-offs, our second was to get through the first round. We have done that and now it is all or nothing. It is a one-off game and you never know."

Playoffs Finals weekend line up confirmed


The line-up for the Elite League playoff finals weekend at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham has been confirmed.
League champions Sheffield Steelers will face Hull Stingrays in the first semi-final on Saturday (4th April) at 1pm.
Belfast Giants will then take on Coventry Blaze in the day’s second semi-final (5pm). 
The third v fourth-placed game takes place on Sunday (12noon), with the Grand Final facing-off at 4pm.
Sheffield booked their place in finals weekend with a 6-5 aggregate victory over Fife Flyers, while Coventry defeated Nottingham Panthers 5-4 over two legs.
Hull Stingrays secured a dramatic overtime victory over Braehead Clan to go through 5-4 on aggregate and Belfast were 8-3 winners over Cardiff Devils. 

Quarter Final tie delicately poised

Genting Casino Coventry Blaze registered a 3-3 tie with Nottingham Panthers in the first leg of their Elite League play-off quarter-final at the National Ice Centre.
Blaze welcomed Steve Goertzen, who captained Sheffield Steelers to play-off glory last season, back into the line-up with Jereme Tendler sitting out.
Ryan O'Marra, in his last season as a player, put Blaze ahead at 6.40 before assisting on Ben Arnt's powerplay marker at 10.41.
Goals from Brandon Benedict (26.08 powerplay) and Guillaume Doucet (30.53) tied the game up but Derek Lee nudged Blaze back in front on the powerplay at 35.26.
Doucet's second, on the powerplay at 53.44, ensured the second leg at the Skydome tomorrow night (5.15pm face-off) is delicately poised.
Coach Chuck Weber said: "It was play-off hockey, it was two teams going hard to the net and both both goalies played well. It is going to be another battle tomorrow night.
"I knew Panthers were going to come, it is about how you manage those moments, but I was proud of the way we got the powerplay goal to go back 3-2 up and they then got a powerplay goal with six minutes left.
"It was a hard-fought game and we wanted to take a lead back with us or be at least tied so it is now up to us to finish it tomorrow night.
"I have been pretty critical of them recently but I thought they found another level but I still think they have another level."
Goertzen was back after a nine-game injury absence and Weber added: "He had three big hits in the first period, he leads by example, he goes to the hard areas, he finishes his hits, he is gritty and has skill, he has a high hockey IQ and helps create chances."
Blaze face Nottingham Panthers at the Skydome in the Rapid Solicitors Elite League play-off quarter-final second leg on Sunday March 29 (6pm face-off). Tickets can be purchased by ringing the Box Office on 02476 630693 (option 0) or online via the Blaze website www.coventryblaze.co.uk


Blaze book place in the Final Four


Genting Casino Coventry Blaze progressed to the Elite League play-off finals weekend courtesy of a 2-1 win over Nottingham Panthers at the Skydome.
Going into the second leg tied at 3-3, the victory ensured Blaze prevailed 5-4 on aggregate as they advanced to the last four for the second time in three years.   
They will now meet Belfast Giants in the second semi-final, with league champions Sheffield Steelers facing Hull Stingrays in the other tie.  
Blaze, who had Jereme Tendler back in the line-up with Cale Tanaka sitting out, made a flying start and were 2-0 up inside six minutes.
Captain Ashley Tait scored the go-ahead goal at 3.38 with Craig Cescon adding a second 99 seconds later.
Cody Wild pulled a goal back for Panthers at 29.53 before Steven Goertzen was unable to convert a penalty shot at 48.19 which would have restored Blaze's two-goal advantage.
But Blaze, who last lifted the play-off trophy in their Grand Slam-winning 2004/05 season, closed the game out and goaltender Brian Stewart made 37 saves as they booked a date in Nottingham next weekend.
Coach Chuck Weber said: "It is a great feeling but the big thing was we played to our identity, we scratched and clawed and were solid defensively.
"We got off to a great start, Stewie made some big saves for us and our PK was really good. I could not be more proud. I have been really hard on them for the last five games of the regular season but they raised their game to another level in this series.
"Nottingham are a talented team with a lot of weapons but we stuck to our structure, we made sacrifices, we played the right way and we got the result we wanted.
"Belfast are another team who are as skilled as they come. The last time we played them they had a guy who has played in the NHL [Kevin Westgarth] as a healthy scratch so that's shows you how deep that team is.
"It is going to be another huge challenge for us. We will put in the work this week to make sure we are prepared and it is going to be exciting for everyone. It is up to us to keep the ball rolling."


HUGE Play-Off Quarter Final Game On Sunday!

Blaze Panthers

The 2014/15 season draws to a close on Sunday and what better way of ending it than with the 2nd leg of our Play-Off Quarter Finals against our local rivals, the Nottingham Panthers.

This is a HUGE game and if you haven’t got your tickets yet, they can still be purchased online at www.coventryblaze.co.uk, at the Skydome Arena box office in person or by calling them on 02476 630693. The box office is open until 9pm tonight, from 9am to 5pm tomorrow and from 9am until the game begins on Sunday – you can also pay on the door when you arrive for the game – doors open at 4.30pm.

We have a lot going on at the game:

This Sunday, we have a very special Suretax 50/50 draw taking place thanks to our sponsors Coombe Abbey. On top of the fantastic cash prize, the winner will receive a super £500 gift voucher to spend at Coombe Abbey so why not bring an extra £1 and increase your chance of winning this amazing prize.

The Exmedia shirt raffle is back for the final time this season - please see the sellers around the arena, the Fanzone or the programme stands to purchase your tickets for only £1 each – the shirt on Sunday is a #17 Russell Cowley game worn regular season home jersey.

The DRP Chuck-A-Puck will be continuing as well with a range of prizes including a family ticket to the Coventry Rugby Club, a meal for four at the Harvester, a £10 merchandise voucher and two VIP passes for Velocity gym at the Village hotel up for grabs – pucks can be purchased for only £1 from the sellers around the arena or at the programme stands.

The special raffle prize on Sunday is a framed regular season #32 Craig Cescon away shirt which has been signed by Craig himself and framed by our sponsors Synergy Graphics. Tickets are only £2 each for this great prize.

Our match night shop will again be open until the end of the second period break on Sunday so if you would like to purchase any merchandise please go the Fanzone area and see what we have available. We also have USA Sports joining us for the game with their array of merchandise so please pop down and see them in the Fanzone area during the night.

If you’d like to buy or bid on one of the player’s season home jerseys, this can be done at the Fanzone from 4.30pm when doors open until the puck drops for the start of the third period. You can also get tickets for our end of season award’s night on Thursday from the Fanzone too – tickets are priced at £12 each.

Battle of the Blocks will be finishing as well so make sure you bring your voices and win points for your block. The leader board can be found here http://www.coventryblaze.co.uk/index.php/battle-of-the-blocks

There will be an after match skate on Sunday too so feel free to bring your own skates or you can hire them for £2 from Planet Ice.

Please note that the Skydome Arena management’s policy is such that no food or drink may be brought into the arena from outside and they reserve the right to carry out bag searches.

Thank you for your co-operation and we look forward to seeing you all on Sunday!

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