Johnston stars in Manchester victory
Andrew Johnston put in a Man of the Match performance as the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze continued their fine run of recent form with yet another victory, beating the Manchester Storm 1-4 away from home on Saturday night.
The Storm came into the game heavily depleted, missing Dallas Ehrhardt, John Negrin, Cam Critchlow, Adam Hughesman, Jared Aulin and Mario Puskarich whilst the Blaze were at full strength.
The Blaze managed to grab the go-ahead goal early on through Andrew Johnston (02.33), assisted by Dillon Eichstadt, his fourth straight game against the Storm with at least a point. With the Storm low on numbers, and the Blaze in high confidence, the away side soon began to take over, doubling their lead in the final five minutes of the first.
Dillon Lawrence was the scorer at 15.48 going top shelf with a wicked wrist shot, set up by Janne Laakkonen and Luke Ferrara.
After a fast, free flowing first period, the second became a bit more stop start. Blaze defenseman Justin Hache was called for cross-checking within the first minute of the period and despite the Storm being unsuccessful on the subsequent powerplay, they gained some momentum from having the extra man.
They made that momentum count minutes later through Mathieu Gagnon (24.30). His shot from the point finding a way past a seemingly unsighted C.J. Motte in the Blaze goal to make it 1-2.
After the Gagnon goal, the game entered a phase where the next goal was crucial. With Ivan Šijan sent to the box for hooking, Blaze were given the opportunity to find it close to the end of the second period.
With one of the league's hottest powerplay's, Coventry managed to capitalise on their first chance of the night, Matt Pohlkamp scoring an untidy goal, assisted by Ross Venus and Eichstadt (his 2nd) at 37.41.
The high tempo hockey returned in the third period, and with Storm trying to change their fortunes, the game began to get physical with several scrums following the referee's whistle.
Looking calm defending their lead, the Blaze managed to extend their advantage further and all but end Manchester's spirited attempt of a fight-back.
Luke Ferrara bagging what might be the easiest goal of his 32 goals so far this season at 47.58. With the hard work done by Johnston and Laakkonen, the puck found itself resting on the goal-line, giving Ferrara the opportunity to tap it home and ensure the Blaze would be heading home with a 1-4 victory and the two points.