Blaze keep Cup hopes alive
Genting Casino Coventry Blaze kept their Challenge Cup qualification hopes alive, producing a second victory in as many nights on home ice, defeating the Manchester Storm by a score of 3-0.
With Ashley Tait still missing from the Blaze line-up, Matt Selby returned after spending Saturday with the Swindon Wildcats as part of his new two-way agreement with the English Premier League club.
The Storm, on the back of an impressive victory over the Nottingham Panthers the night before were missing the services of forward trio Darian Dziurzynski, Adam Harding and Patrick Valcak.
Outshooting Storm 18-8, Blaze controlled much of the first period. Josh Godfrey for the second night running giving the home side a 1-0 advantage, his sixth of the year, on the powerplay at 15.07.
Into the second period and again a Godfrey shot resulted in a goal on the powerplay, Captain and Man of the Match Jordan Pietrus this time re-directing the puck in front for 2-0 at 24.04.
Just over ten minutes later, Matt Marquardt who had two assists in the game, taking his total to 14 for the season in 17 games picked up a ten-minute personal misconduct penalty, outraged at referee Dean Smith for an argued missed infraction.
Blaze though, with their top-point scorer in the penalty box managed to extend their lead further at 38.53. Jordan Pietrus netting his second on a rebound from a Shawn Boutin shot for 3-0.
Just 17 seconds into the final period, Blaze's Garrett Klotz dropped the gloves with Storm's Eric Neilson, the Manchester man going down early, both men picking up 5 minutes in the penalty box for fighting.
Despite pulling netminder Mike Clemente, who stopped 44 of 47 Blaze shots earning him Man of the Match honours for the Storm, Coventry held firm in the final minutes, Ross Venus coming close to netting his second empty-net goal of the weekend, narrowly shooting wide twice.
The Blaze now travel to Nottingham on Friday evening, knowing that a regulation win against the Panthers, who have suffered four straight defeats will see them reach the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup.
Head Coach Danny Stewart said, "I'm thrilled. All weekend the guys put in the effort. They bought into playing a certain way and it was good to see. Last weekend wasn't a good weekend, it was a tough one, but we put it behind us. Credit to the guys they took it upon themselves to have some team-meetings and I think it probably did them some good, there were some real home-truths and they came out and performed."