Match report

Blaze collect point in final group game

Panthers 4
Blaze 3

The Coventry Blaze completed the 2021 Elite Series regular season with a point from a 4-3 overtime defeat to the Nottingham Panthers. 

The Blaze were unchanged from Saturday's game against the Manchester Storm. The Panthers started Jackson Whistle in goal.

Nottingham had the majority of the early offensive pressure, with the Blaze having to kill two penalties almost back-to-back during which Shane Owen deflected a shot from Nick Dineen onto the bar.

The Blaze got their first powerplay when Brendan Ellis was called for holding and took full advantage, with Luke Ferrara firing home his fourth goal of the series from a pass from Nicolai Bryhnisveen at 14.23.

But, the Panthers responded immediately and were level just over 30 seconds later, when Christophe Boivin scored his eighth goal of the series from a pass from Kevin Domingue at 14.57.

Coventry went on the powerplay again inside the final two minutes of the period, after Boivin was called for slashing, and Mike Hammond put them back in front with his sixth goal of the series when he fired the puck past Whistle and into the top of the net through the smallest of gaps from a narrow angle at 19.24.

The second period saw both sides create early chances, with Whistle pulling off a good save close in from Bryhnisveen, but it was Nottingham who found the net when a shot from Ollie Betteridge took an unfortunate deflection off the trailing Bryhnisveen's stick and past Owen at 24.31.

Owen kept the Blaze in the game with a number of good saves, while Whistle stopped chances from David Clements, Vanya Antonov and from Ross Venus off a rebound from a Bryhnisveen shot.

Coventry re-took the lead when David Clements fired home on the back door from a great pass from Hammond at 35.02, and Laakkonen was then denied by Whistle shortly afterwards.

The Blaze were forced to defend doggedly in the early part of the third period as the Panthers enjoyed a lot of possession in the offensive zone. Whistle had to react smartly on a Blaze attack as he saved a shot from Ferrara and then flicked the puck away from danger with his stick as it threatened to loop over him into the net.

Nottingham's offensive pressure eventually paid off when Domingue battled his way past two Blaze defencemen before firing the puck past Owen at 56.06. But neither side could find the winning goal in regulation and so the game went to overtime.

Both sides forced the netminders into saves at the start of the extra period, but it was the Panthers who secured the victory when Mark Matheson was left with plenty of time in front of the Blaze net to dig a puck out of his skates and flick it past Owen at 61.37.

The Blaze will find out who they will face in next week’s semi-finals later tonight when the seedings are decided following the Sheffield Steelers vs. Manchester Storm game at 7pm.

As things stand:

Steelers win (of any kind):
(1) Steelers v (4) Storm
(2) Blaze v (3) Panthers

Storm win in regulation: 
(1) Steelers v (4) Panthers
(2) Storm v (3) Blaze

Storm win in OT/PS:
(1) Steelers v (4) Storm
(2) Blaze v (3) Panthers