Damage done in first period for Blaze
Four unanswered goals in the first period and a hat-trick from Patrick Dwyer helped the title chasing Belfast Giants to a 2-7 victory over the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze at the Skydome Arena.
The three from former NHLer Dwyer were timed at 5.41, 9.16 and 19.14 (shorthanded) split by a strike from Brit Jonathan Boxill (13.32). After scoring, at 18.33, Boxill was to drop the gloves with Blaze’s player/assistant coach Kevin Noble following a huge hit by the Coventry defenceman. In addition to the standard 5 minutes for fighting, the Giants player was also to receive a 2+10 instigator penalty on the play.
Jonathan Ferland made it 0-5 at 21.17 as British back-up Jordan Hedley replaced Canadian Matt Hackett in the Blaze goal.
Despite the tilted score-line, Coventry had made chances, and that trend continued, with Alex Nikiforuk finally beating Tyler Beskorowany for the first time at 36.53.
Ben Lake on a tipped shot from Justin Hache made it a 2-5 on 41.05, and with a powerplay chance shortly after, Blaze Head Coach Danny Stewart decided to pull Hedley in favour of a 6-on-4 -man advantage.
It was though Belfast who were to score into the empty net (55.06) and all but end the game through Darcy Murphy with a third assist of the night going to Blair Riley.
Great Britain’s all-time leading goal scorer, Colin Shields, who recently announced his retirement at the end of the current season, wrapped up the scoring (55.31) for a final score of 2-7.
The result means Blaze remain one point ahead of Manchester just inside the playoff places with the two sides meeting in Altrincham on Saturday. A regulation win would see Coventry qualify for the post-season playoff competition, whilst depending on what happens when Manchester face Milton Keynes on Friday, a defeat could mean the end of Blaze’s season.
Stewart said to Chris Ellis on FreeSports TV post-game, “We talked about not making mistakes and in that first period we made more than we have in the past two weeks. It was two different teams. For the first 30 minutes we were garbage and then we started playing and we had some push-back but there was too much damage done in the first. Whether we lost 2-7 or 2-3 we lost it and we have to re-group, get better tomorrow and be ready for a huge game in Manchester.”