Blaze take deserved point from league leaders
The Elite League leading Cardiff Devils picked up a tenth win on the trot, finding a way past the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze in a lengthily sudden-death penalty shoot-out at Ice Arena Wales.
With the enthralling game ending 3-3 after 60 minutes, the Blaze picked up a welcome and deserved point. Joey Haddad’s effort in the eighth round of the shoot-out though was enough for the home side to take the win on Boxing Day.
Blaze started the regular post-Christmas fixture well but early penalty trouble saw them fall behind. With Luke Ferrara (tripping) and Kevin Noble (delay of game) in the box, Cardiff took advantage of the 5-on-3 and resulting 5-on-4 to take a 2-0 lead inside ten minutes. Devils’ Captain Jake Morissette with the opener (7.45) before British forward Matt Myers made it two wide-open in front of net (9.18).
Despite the hole they found themselves in, a Coventry side high on confidence of 4 wins from the last 5 fought back strong. Assistant Coach/Player Brett Robinson making it 2-1 (13.04) before in the second period, Ben Lake following outstanding work by Danick Paquette tied the game 2-2 (23.53).
As the encounter moved along, Blaze created the better scoring opportunities, Ross Venus and Blaze Man of the Match Ryan Dingle particularly unfortunate not to beat Great Britain Number one Ben Bowns from close-range.
A third powerplay goal for the Devils (3/4 overall) gave them the advantage again (44.41). Last season’s Elite League Player of the Year Joey Martin registering with Gleason Fournier picking up a second assist of the night.
With a 5-on-3 and then 5-on-4 powerplay opportunity of their own, Blaze managed to find a deserved equaliser (1/6 with the man advantage overall). Dingle with a fortunate bounce making it 3-3 (50.15), an assist being awarded to Adam Courchaine extending the point-scoring streak to eleven matches, Vallerand too picking up a second helper.
With no further scoring in the 60 minutes, both teams received a point and the game headed to 3-on-3 overtime.
The first chance came the way of Dingle, Vallerand also going close as Coventry controlled the additional play. A late 4-on-3 powerplay opportunity saw Adam Courchaine denied with the final shot of the puck by Ben Bows with a quite stunning save to take the game to penalty shots.
With the score tied one each after the regular three rounds of shots (Dingle and Morrissette successful), sudden-death penalties followed.
Despite Dingle managing to respond to a Joey Haddad effort, Vallerand couldn’t beat Bowns after the Cardiff man registered again on his next shot. The shoot-out going a total of eight rounds as a fortunate Devils side skated away with the additional point.
Head Coach Danny Stewart said, "I liked our compete tonight. Going down two early was a tough hill to climb, but we found a way back and put ourselves in position to win a hockey game. We will need to be better tomorrow, but there are many positives to take!"