Blaze exit Challenge Cup with Devils defeat
The Genting Casino Coventry Blaze's hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup ended abruptly, conceding 4 second period powerplay goals in a 7-2 defeat to Cardiff Devils at Ice Arena Wales.
Blaze went into the game without the suspended Danick Paquette and lost top-scorer Marco Vallerand early in the first period through injury. Devils also short, missing Joey Haddad, Mark Richardson, Justin Faryna and Patrick Asselin.
Coventry Captain Jordan Pietrus gave his side the perfect start at 6.14, lifting the puck over Great Britain’s Ben Bowns in the Devils net from close-range for 0-1.
Last season’s league MVP Joey Martin then tipped home a Bryce Reddick shot on 17.39, sending the teams to the locker room all square after 20 minutes.
Into the second period and Paul Crowder put the home side ahead, beating Kevin Nastiuk with a rebound shot on the powerplay for 2-1 at 26.53.
Blaze though hit straight back through David Clements, beating a sprawling Bowns at 28.29. The British defenceman pushed up onto a forward line to cover for Vallerand registering his first of the season.
At 30.12, the game turned on its head following an accessed check to the head on Devils’ Player/Coach Andrew Lord by Blaze’s Player/Assistant Coach Brett Robinson. The Coventry forward picking up a game penalty and putting Cardiff on an extended 3 minute powerplay after they had killed 2 minutes of their own.
Three goals came in the space of less than 2 minutes, dashing Blaze’s hopes of victory. Andrew Hotham with a wraparound (32.22), Gleason Fournier with a shot through traffic (33.00) and Jake Morissette (33.55) ended the night for Coventry’s number one netminder Kevin Nastiuk, replaced by the Welsh Brython Preece with the score at 5-2.
The 19-year-old netminder from Newport, who began his hockey career in the Devils junior system impressed for the remainder of the game, but was beaten by Joey Martin, his second of the night at 37.35 before Layne Ulmer rounded off the scoring at 42.21 for a final score of 7-2.
Head Coach Danny Stewart said, “I thought we played a very good 32 mins and put ourselves in a good spot. Not capitalising on a 4-on-3 was a big turning point in the game. Our penalty-kill has been good for us this year, but tonight it was not, and they won the game with 3 powerplay goals in a short span. We gave them too much time on the puck and they have some special players that make you pay. Being four guys down at that point left us in a tough spot, but I still feel we could have handled it better.
“What’s done is done. We didn’t perform well in the Challenge Cup for whatever reason, and it’s disappointing for everyone involved from the top of the organisation to the fans. We must turn our focus now back to the league where we are in a good spot and bounce back tomorrow night!”