Blaze vs. Panthers Preview (24/08/16)
The 2016/17 Genting Casino Coventry Blaze hit the Skydome Arena ice for the first time tonight under Head Coach Danny Stewart.
Nottingham Panthers are the opponents for the pre-season encounter with a face-off of 7.30pm.
It’s been a long summer for the returning members of the Blaze squad after falling to the Panthers 2-0 in the final game of last season, the Elite League playoff final.
That game was the eleventh meeting between the sides, with Blaze winning five and the Panthers six.
If last season is anything to go by, the first goal between the two is crucial with Blaze winning four of five when they score first and Panthers winning five of the six where they lit the lamp first.
Brett Robinson who was sadly injured in the initial minutes of the Playoff final was Blaze’s top-scorer against the Panthers last season with 4 goals, 7 assists (11 points) and the returning Blaze 23 will be looking to continue his blistering second-half of the year form right from the first puck-drop this season.
Both line-ups have seen significant changes from last season, most notably behind the Coventry bench where multiple time Elite League Champion with the Blaze as a player, Danny Stewart replaces Chuck Weber who moves to Rochester Americans of the AHL as assistant coach.
On the ice, Blaze have added significant firepower to their line-up with the additions of Robin Bergan, Matt Marquardt, Bjorn Bombis and Darcy Zajac particularly. On defence, Shawn Boutin and Marc Cantin (yet to arrive) replace the outgoing Mike Quesnele (unsigned) and Boris Valabik who will play in Austria this coming season. There will also be debuts for Blaze’s new tough guy, Garrett Klotz and Liam Stewart.
On the other side, on back of adding the Playoff trophy to the Challenge Cup, Corey Neilson remains behind the Panthers bench. It’s been a challenging summer for the Canadian though, losing a number of pivotal pieces to their success of last season. Both Evan Mosey and Cam Janssen have departed after signing contracts to return, Mosey to the AHL’s Rockford Ice Hogs and Janssen, the former NHL enforcer, to take up a media role back home in North America. Panthers’ top points and goal scorer, Juraj Kolnik has also left along with Andy Bohmbach and reliable defenceman Bryan Schmidt.
Incoming is offensive defenceman Dan Sprang, who has played in numerous well-respected European leagues. With Brad Moran and other newcomer Alex Nikiforuk still awaiting arrival to the UK, the one to watch for the Blaze tonight might be Matt Carter who is said to be a big threat in front of net and scored in his debut as Panthers fell 5-2 to Braehead on Saturday.
Miika Wiikman returns in net and will again be looking to frustrate the Blaze sharp-shooters, whilst the hard-working Logan MacMillan and dangerous forward Stephen Schultz are other notable returnees.
Tickets are selling quickly for the game but you can still get yours ONLINE, at the Skydome Arena box office in person or by calling them on 02476 630693.
Doors open at 6.45pm with a 7.30pm face-off.
If you are unable to join us tonight then we offer a webcast service via Clean Cut Sports for a cost of £8:
Or you can follow play-by-play updates via: @covblazelive on Twitter