Blaze make playoffs with Storm victory
With the Braehead Clan losing on Friday to the Nottingham Panthers, and then Saturday to Guildford Flames, a 4-7 victory away from home against Manchester Storm was enough to seal a PredictorBet Elite League Playoffs spot for the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze.
Backed by a large following of supporters, the Blaze took an early lead through hat-trick hero and Man of the Match Ryan Dingle at 5.38. The American beating Storm's British back-up Declan Ryan, who with 2nd place already secure for Manchester got the start over import Mike Clemente.
The game was tied at 10.04, Nate Fleming beating Kevin Nastiuk for 1-1 before the Patton Conference winning Storm took a 2-1 lead, Ryan Trenz the scorer on 12.21.
Shortly after, Dingle's second tied the game (13.32) and that's the way it stayed to end the opening period.
The middle twenty belonged to Coventry with the away side scoring three unanswered. Dingle's natural hat-trick strike making it 2-3 (26.19), Gaelan Patterson then registering for 2-4 (33.11) and Brett Robinson (39.30) giving Blaze a commanding 2-5 lead to end the second.
With Brahead's 3-1 defeat to Guildford being confirmed at this point, qualification for the PredictorBet playoffs looked a certainty for Danny Stewart's side.
That was to be the case, as despite two hit backs by Manchester in the third, Blaze responded each time.
Scott Pitt first made it 3-5 (43.50), Adam Courchaine though striking back (45.04) for 3-6.
Matt Stanisz then scored the only powerplay goal of the night (Storm going 1/3, Blaze 0/5) before Danick Paquette, who had three assists previous, ended the scoring (55.54) for a final score of 4-7.
Coventry will now face first seeds, the Elite League Champion Cardiff Devils in the PredictorBet Playoff quarter-finals with the first leg being played at the Skydome Arena on Good Friday (7.30pm) and the second leg at Ice Arena Wales on Sunday 1st April (6pm).
Head Coach Danny Stewart said, "I’m proud of these guys tonight. To put this run together & make playoffs is a great achievement. We’ve been through ups & downs but kept at it and we were rewarded tonight! I would like to thank everyone who came tonight to support us. It doesn’t go unnoticed and you made a huge difference."