Marquardt ready to fire again
Genting Casino Coventry Blaze Head Coach Danny Stewart is delighted to welcome back Canadian forward Matt Marquardt as his side travel to South Wales on Saturday for a Challenge Cup fixture before welcoming Nottingham Panthers to the Skydome in the Elite League on Sunday (5.15pm).
The 29-year-old flew back to Coventry earlier this week after missing the past weekend defeats to Sheffield Steelers and Manchester Storm in the Challenge Cup due to being best man at a close friend’s wedding back home.
“The wedding was incredible,” said Matt. “It’s never easy to leave the boys and miss games, but this guy is like family to me, him and his new wife. They counted on me to stand with them and I could not let them down. Family always comes first with me.”
Going to Cardiff on Saturday for their fourth Challenge Cup game, Blaze remain right in the mix for qualification having put two points on the board from three games, beating the Nottingham Panthers on home ice with Marquardt posting three assists in the game.
“Last weekend was tough, but after watching film, talking to the boys and the coaches, the effort was there. It’s just a matter of ironing out some kinks here early and getting a little puck luck. You have to work hard to get lucky, we work hard every night, so it will come. I'm not worried about qualification from the group, the guys aren't worried. We have a ton of character, leadership and resiliency in that locker room. We go about our business by committee. You have to love the challenge this Saturday, two good teams with a lot to prove, hungry to make up for lost points in the Challenge Cup, it should be a dandy, I can't wait.”
On Sunday, the Blaze switch back to league action taking on the Nottingham Panthers who will have former NHL tough guy Brian McGrattan in the line-up (5.15pm Skydome Arena). With two wins over the Panthers already this season in the Challenge Cup and pre-season, Marquardt and his teammates know the challenge that awaits them.
“Nottingham is a great team with a lot of speed and skill. They have solid goaltending and they've got out to a great start. However, you'll hear me say this a lot this season, we're not worried about other teams and what they do! We're concerned with us, each other and how we go about our business. They are a great team, so are we, it should be an exciting contest.”
Having been in Coventry and the Elite League for well over a month now, the 6’2” winger who has been awarded with associate captaincy says he is settling in well, except for the usual struggle of import hockey players coming to the UK for the first time.
“Everything in the Elite League and mostly Coventry itself has far exceed my expectations. I am very proud, honoured and thankful to put that jersey on every day and go to work. This is a first class organisation with first class people.
“The only challenge or obstacle for me so far has been getting into my car on the right side, then actually getting my frame into the car, shifting with my left and driving on the left! I'm doing well with the latter… still working on smoother car entries though!”
On the ice, with 12 points (5+7) in 6 pre-season and 2 competitive games, the former Kelly Cup Champion has quickly become a popular figure amongst the Coventry faithful with fans modifying the famous Will Grigg’s On Fire song for their new hero.
“I'm very humbled and thankful for the fan reaction here in Coventry, in person, during games as well as on social media, I LOVE IT! It's great to see a passionate fan base with nothing but positive vibes and an appreciation for our hard work. They are our 7th man out there. We're all in this together, we owe them a lot! I love the song, but I feel I have more to prove to earn it! Pre-season was successful, I'm working hard to keep it going, I have a bigger job to do in these bigger games, but I like to think our fans energy provides a spark for our entire team to catch fire!! See you all on Sunday, if not before in Cardiff.”
See Matt Marquardt and the Blaze take on the Nottingham Panthers at the Skydome Arena in Elite League Action (5.15pm)
Or call: 02476 630693
Full game information available, here.