Lake the Blaze hero with crucial late game-winner
Ben Lake was the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze hero, scoring on a breakaway with less than two minutes remaining before wrapping up a 2-4 victory with an empty-net goal against fellow Playoff chasing Dundee Stars in Scotland.
Dundee had the better chances in the early going, Anthony Mastrodicasa particularly upset with himself after hitting the post with an empty net in front of him. The Stars then had a goal disallowed by referees Toby Craig and Neil Wilson after the puck was kicked in to the net.
Through the Elite League's top-scorer, Blaze took the lead before the buzzer for the end of the first period. Canadian forward Marco Vallerand showing great patience to beat Travis Fullerton in the Stars goal for 0-1 (19.00).
Coventry began the second with an extended 5-on-3 opportunity but despite piling pressure on Fullerton's net, they couldn't find a way past the Dundee Man of the Match.
At the other end, the outstanding Nastiuk continued to frustrate the Stars, leading to Blaze taking a 0-2 lead through an unlikely source.
With a shot from the blue-line, rugged defenceman Dax Lauwers registered just his second of the season at 35.51. David Clements and Blaze Man of the Match Ryan Dingle getting the helpers.
The third period began with a bizarre opener for the home side. With Nastiuk skating behind his net to play a puck, he was beaten to it by Brian Hart, the Stars man playing it in front of net where Gaelan Patterson mishandled, the puck then bouncing off the Blaze man's skate into his own net (45.32).
4-on-4 the game was then tied, Emerson Hrynyk registering for 2-2 at 46.25.
Despite being pegged back, Blaze refused to let their 700th all-time victory slip away. Brett Robinson and Jordan Pietrus both being denied superbly by Fullerton before Lake's game-winner.
Going one-on-one with Fullerton, the centerman took his time, deking and beating the Dundee shot-stopper brilliantly for 2-3 (58.03).
Following a time-out, Fullerton was pulled for the extra skater, leaving Lake to back-hand his second into the empty net (59.19) for a final score of 2-4.
The result puts the Stars (10th) a point behind Blaze (9th) with a game in hand. Meanwhile, the side the two are chasing for a playoff spot, the Braehead Clan (8th) picked up a significant 3-5 victory away from home against the newly crowned Challenge Cup Champions, the Belfast Giants.
Head Coach Danny Stewart said,“It was a big win tonight on the road. Nasti made some huge saves for us in the first and it was good to get that first one. The penalty kill came up big at a crucial time in the third and we got a big goal from Laker and held on. The guys gutted this one out and everyone contributed tonight! Thanks to the fans that traveled!”
Includes further reaction from Danny Stewart