Belfast weekend: Friday report
In the first of back-to-back meetings, on Friday, the 1,250th all-time game in the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze’s history, despite leading 3-4 following two periods, four goals from the Giants in the final 20 minutes turned the game on its head.
It was a frustrating night for Head Coach Danny Stewart as despite his side taking a 1-3 lead in the second period with three powerplay goals from Danick Paquette (x2) and Brett Robinson, his 50th in Elite League competitions, many further chances went astray.
Strikes from Jim Vandermeer, Colin Shields (powerplay) and Darcy Murphy put the Giants level but Captain Jordan Pietrus restored the Coventry lead beating the outstanding Jackson Whistle for 3-4 before 40 minutes were in the books.
The third period saw a complete momentum switch. Sebastien Sylvestre tying the game at four, before Brandon Benedict, Brendan Connolly and finally John Kurtz all registered in quick succession leaving the Blaze boss, players and the couple of hundred travelling fans wondering where it had all gone wrong.
“For two periods, we were the better hockey team and played exactly how we wanted to play,” said Stewart. “We got a couple of big powerplay goals and had chances to put them away but didn’t, and that’s the difference. When you allow a good team to stick around that happens. We make a mistake for 4-4 and then for whatever reason we lose confidence and become what we fear. We have got to find a way to close out these games by making simple plays that win hockey games.”