Match report

Laakkonen crucial in Blaze shoot-out win

Panthers 3
Blaze 4

Finnish forward Janne Laakkonen scored a late powerplay goal and a game-winner in the shoot-out to help the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze to a huge 3-4 victory over the Nottingham Panthers at the Motorpoint Arena.

Coventry began the game with a lot of jump and were unfortunate not to go ahead early as a loose puck fell behind netminder Kevin Carr only for a Panthers defenceman to dive and clear almost off the line.

After killing a couple of minor penalties, the Blaze took a deserved lead at 19.05 with Captain Drew Schiestel shooting through traffic for 0-1 at 19.05.

It took until the 34-minute mark for the next goal to come as Julian Talbot fired the Panthers level, only for the Blaze to go ahead again shortly after through Ross Venus (35.25).

A fortunate rebound off Motte on 45.15 saw the Panthers tie things at two (45.12), Georgs Golovkovs adding to his earlier assist with the goal.

With the clock ticking down, Great Britain International Brett Perlini found wide open space in front of net to give Nottingham a 3-2 lead late on (58.16) but the resilient Blaze were to fight back and find a way to take the game to overtime.

With 1.01 remaining Panthers’ Captain Gui Lepine was sent to the box for high-sticking and Laaakkonen was to find the equaliser with 36 seconds to go.

With each team taking a point after a 3-3 tie, no goals were scored in overtime and the game went to a shoot-out.

Mathieu Tousignant got Panthers ahead on the first shot, only to be levelled by Schiestel for Blaze. Venus then put Coventry ahead in the third round only for Brian Connelly to make it 2-2 after four shots. In the fifth and final round, Golovkovs was to be denied by Motte leaving Laakkonen the opportunity to step up and score the 3-4 game-winning goal for Coventry.