Blaze head into playoffs on a high
Genting Casino Coventry Blaze ended the Elite League regular-season with a 6-2 win over Manchester Storm at the Skydome Arena.
Blaze, who had lost all five meetings with Storm this term, recalled forward Cale Tanaka, with defenceman James Isaacs sitting out.
Carl Lauzon gave Blaze a lightning start by scoring after just 21 seconds with an assist from Brett Robinson, who doubled their advantage just 32 seconds into the middle session.
Blaze, who replaced goaltender Brian Stewart with Renny Marr at the start of the period, made it 3-0 at 26.33 with Robinson notching his second.
Jordan Pietrus stretched Blaze's lead at 33.35 before Storm got on the board through a Vinny Scarsella effort at 36.20.
Tanaka added a fifth for Blaze with 18 seconds of the period remaining and Russell Cowley made it a 6-1 game 2.44 into the final stanza.
Patrik Valcak claimed a second for Storm at 55.38 but Blaze went on to snap a three-game losing run to go into the play-offs on a positive note.
Blaze will now prepare for a two-legged play-off quarter-final with league champions Sheffield Steelers to determine who advances to the Final Four weekend in Nottingham.
"Getting that first goal has always been key for us. When neither team is really playing for much, as a coach you worry about bad habits but I was proud of the way we battled for Marrsy (netminder Renny Marr) who made some big saves when we needed him to.
"I think this group when they play the right way, when they make a commitment to getting pucks deep, to tracking and doing the little things well we can play with anybody, and we've proven that but it's a fine line that you have to walk especially at playoff time. That room has to lead the way." - Head Coach, Chuck Weber
"We wanted to set ourselves up for next weekend which is playoff hockey and start with good habits tonight." - #17 Russ Cowley
"It was an important game. We had three losses in a row and we wanted to finish strong before the playoffs." - #91 Carl Lauzon