Preview: Blaze vs. Giants (15/10/16)
It’s hockey night on Saturday at the Skydome Arena as Genting Casino Coventry Blaze look to take the frustration of last Sunday’s 0-1 defeat to the Fife Flyers out on the visiting Belfast Giants (7pm face-off).
Blaze met Belfast to open up their 2016/17 Elite League campaign at the Skydome Arena, picking up a point in a 2-3 overtime defeat.
The scorer of the game-winning-goal DJ Rutherford picked up an injury last weekend, whilst Alex Foster also missed both games and the pair will again be absent from the Skydome fixture with Head Coach Derrick Walser quoted as suggesting he’s in the market for cover, perhaps as early as this weekend.
Michael Forney (7+4=11) and Chris Higgins (4+7=11) lead the Giants for points over the 10 League and Challenge Cup games played so far, helping the club to achieve qualification for the quarter-finals of the cup, and pick up 3 points from 3 league games.
So far this season, Belfast have utilised both of the British netminders at their disposal, the veteran Murphy posting a 89.1% save-percentage over 8 games and 21 year-old Whistle 87.1% in 3.
Part of the reason for the two sitting low in the goalie charts is the Giants’ penalty-killing rating 9th overall at 74.4%, away from home falling further to 65% and is an area Blaze will surely attempt to exploit.
The Coventry powerplay on home ice is currently running at 21.1% (18.4% in all games). The penalty-kill at the Skydome, 83.9% and 85.2% overall.
On the flip side, Belfast have converted on 17.6% of their powerplay chances on the road, same when you take into account all games. The Blaze when down a man at home, 83.9% and 85.2% overall.
After an impressive 2-3 road victory in Cardiff, Danny Stewart’s Blaze side were left frustrated by his old club, and in particular Fife Flyers’ goalie Shane Owen back home in a 0-1 defeat on home ice last Sunday.
With 5 points from 6 games so far in the Elite League, and a fight on the club’s hands to qualify for the next stage of the Challenge Cup, the 37-year-old Canadian is hoping this weekend will bring the start of some much needed consistency from his team.
Matt Marquardt, who scored the overtime game-winning-goal in Cardiff continues to lead the team for points (2+9=11), whilst 6’5” netminder Brian Stewart has posted a 90.8% save-percentage over ten league and cup games to start the season.
Blaze boss Danny Stewart said to Rob McGregor for the Elite League website:
“Belfast are a pretty skilled bunch, I think they have a lot more pace to their game from last year, and again a good back-end and the duo of Whistle and Murphy gives them some strength in net, so it’s a very tough test for us but one we’re looking forward to.”
Giants’ player/coach Derrick Walser commented:
“We have to find a way to get a win. We’ve played well enough to get more points than we have got. We’re banged up but have to go there and have a character weekend and find a way to get some points on the board."
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Tickets will be available on the door but please make sure you arrive early, doors open at 6.15pm.
Full game information, here.
If you can't join us at the Skydome Arena, watch the game online via Clean Cut Sports: