Slow start costs Blaze in Manchester defeat
Genting Casino Coventry Blaze succumbed to a second Challenge Cup defeat of the weekend, going down to the Manchester Storm by a score of 3-1.
Storm goalie Mike Clemente was the star of the show stopping 39 of 40 shots as Blaze Head Coach Danny Stewart felt disappointed with his team’s start to the game.
It was a difficult start to the game for Coventry falling behind at 3.21 as Cody Cartier converted the Storm’s first real big scoring opportunity.
Both Brian Stewart and Mike Clemente between the pipes pulled off some outstanding saves before Storm doubled their lead through Mario Trabucco at 17.06 after Blaze Captain Jordan Pietrus’ stick had broken on the play.
Clemente again pulled off a magnificent save on Ashley Tait to end the opening period, denying the Blaze veteran his 250th goal in Elite League competitions.
British forward Jack Prince extended the Storm’s lead to three at 27.46 winning a battle in front of the net beating a frustrated Brian Stewart.
With less than five minutes remaining in the middle period, German forward Bjorn Bombis gave Blaze a lifeline finishing well from a speedy breakout also involving Jim Jorgensen and Ashley Tait.
Coventry pushed for a second in the final period but again Clemente stood strong in the Storm net, eventually earning himself a much deserved Man of the Match award stopping 39 of 40 shots.
Blaze Head Coach Danny Stewart pulled his netminder for the extra skater with a couple of minutes remaining, looking to re-create the astonishing pre-season come back in Manchester but it wasn’t to be this time around as the home side skated away with the two Challenge Cup points.
Following two defeats this weekend, Blaze will look to get back to winning ways in the Challenge Cup as they travel to Cardiff next Saturday night before welcoming the Nottingham Panthers to the Skydome Arena for an Elite League fixture on Sunday (5.15pm face-off).
Danny Stewart said post-game, “We didn’t come out of the gates the way we wanted to and essentially that first period cost us the game. I thought in the second and third we played a lot more physical and direct and we put a lot of rubber on their goalie but credit to him he made some good saves. It’s a tough barn and you have to be direct here for three periods, we were only for two.”