Depleted Blaze suffer late Devils defeat
The Genting Casino Coventry Blaze were left to rue a series of missed powerplay opportunities as a disputed goal mid-way through the third period paved the way to a battling 0-2 loss to the Cardiff Devils at the Skydome Arena.
A short-benched Blaze side failed to take more than a handful of powerplay opportunities, which included two spells of five-on-three play, while Cardiff converted one of their three chances.
Coventry were without injury victims Jake Hansen, Ross Venus and Justin Hache, as well as Alex Nikiforuk who was serving a one-match ban. The roster was bolstered by the addition of young British defenceman Edward Knaggs from the Bracknell Bees. Cardiff were missing Joey Haddad.
An entertaining first period saw both sides create chances, with netminders Matt Hackett and Ben Bowns repeatedly called into action. The Blaze found themselves with a brief spell of five-on-three in the latter stages of the period but were unable to find the net as the period ended scoreless.
The second frame was a cagey affair, with both sides still trying to break the deadlock and both netminders standing tall. Blaze came close through the ‘999’ line of Lake, Crowder and Pauly, but Pauly was hooked as he tried to make contact with the puck.
The third period began with the Blaze on the penalty kill, but their defence held firm and the game passed the 50-minute mark with the deadlock still unbroken. Cardiff eventually opened the scoring when Bryce Reddick forced the puck over the line at 51.01 after a great play from Charles Linglet. The goal was eventually given after a review by the referees, with the Blaze players convinced the puck had gone in off the skate of the Devils player. Less than two minutes later the Devils doubled their lead when Stephen Dixon scored on the powerplay at 52.26.
With time running out, the Blaze pulled Hackett for the extra attacker but were unable to find the net, suffering their first shutout since late October and only their third of the season. Hackett was named man-of-the-match for the Blaze after stopping 32 of 34 shots, and also received the team’s player-of-the-month award for February. Linglet took the man-of-the-match honour for Cardiff.