Almeida delivers overtime winner in Manchester
Barry Almeida delivered the overtime winner as Genting Casino Coventry Blaze closed the gap on 7th placed Manchester Storm to two points with a 4-5 overtime victory at the Altincham Ice Dome.
Blaze had to weather 'the early Storm' from the home side, killing two minor penalties in the opening minutes before taking the lead themselves. The returning Ashley Tait, who missed last weekend's action through injury scoring from a Robin Bergman pass at 8.09.
Coventry's Garrett Klotz and Manchster's Dallas Ehrhardt then dropped the gloves following a scrum in front of the Storm net at 15.37, each receiving five minutes in the penalty-box for fighting.
Tait, who was also joined back in the Blaze line-up by defenceman Josh Godfrey, then turned provider for Great Britain colleague Ross Venus to make it 0-2 on 17.16.
The middle period began similar to the start of the game with Storm in the ascendency, though Blaze goalie Brian Stewart, who stopped 39 of 43 shots, stood strong.
That was until 27.55 when Darian Dziurzynsk finally found a way past the 6'3" Canadian for 1-2, assisted by Eric Neilson, back on the ice following a recent four game ban for an altercation with a fan in Fife.
As the clock ticked down in the middle period, Barry Almeida struck his 10th goal, 30th point for the Blaze (39.25), sending the Blaze to the locker-room two goals to the good after 40 minutes (1-3).
On the powerplay, the Storm grabbed a goal back early in the third period. Matt Bissonnette the scorer at 43.28 before Patrik Valcak tied the game 3-3 just 33 seconds later (44.01).
Coventry hit back again though through their Man of the Match Robin Bergman, the Swede taking advantage of a Manchester turn-over for 3-4 (45.03). Ehrhardt, who also picked up the post-game award for his side then tied things again 4-4 (49.43).
The game could have been won by either side in the final seconds. Brett Robinson hitting Clemente's post before the Storm looked for a winner in a crazy scramble in front of Stewart's net to end the game.
With a point each secure, into 3-on-3 overtime the game went. Just 30 seconds in, it was Jim Jorgensen feeding Barry Almeida expertly who beat Clemente for the second time to win the game for Blaze 4-5.
Head Coach Danny Stewart said, "We were not at our best tonight but we found a way to win a game in a tough building. That's a good hockey team we played tonight and credit to them for pulling it back. We will need to be better tomorrow, but two points is what we came for and that's what we are leaving with!"