Owen helps Blaze weather Storm
Netminder Shane Owen made 55 saves to help the Coventry Blaze secure a 4-3 win over the Manchester Storm in their seventh game of the Elite Series.
The Blaze were without import Nick Jermain and academy prospect Austin Mitchell-King came back into the line-up. Manchester gave a first start of the series to netminder Sam Gospel in relief of number-one Sean Boner.
It was Gospel who was beaten first, when Tristan Keck managed to keep the puck in the Storm zone, finding Mike Hammond, who fired low past Gospel at 3.55 for his third goal of the series.
After killing a penalty, the Blaze made it 2-0 when a shot from Cole Shudra, playing on the same line as Keck and Hammond, led to a goalmouth scramble and the puck found its way into the net at 8.58.
Manchester continued to create offensive pressure late in the first period and were handed a second powerplay opportunity, but again they could not find a way past an inspired Owen.
In the middle period, the Storm almost got off to a perfect start when Joe Hazeldine had a great chance on the back door but he was denied by Owen at 20.25. The Blaze netminder then pulled off a spectacular save to deny Shane Long what seemed a certain goal at 24.33.
Manchester’s offensive efforts were finally rewarded on the powerplay, when a shot from Andreas Klavestad rebounded to Jacob Lundell Noer who fired the puck past Owen at 28.12.
The Blaze restored a two-goal lead on a 5-on-3 powerplay chance, when a scramble in front of the Manchester net saw Keck poke the puck home for his series-leading seventh goal at 34.54.
After a delay in play following an injury to linesman Lee Young in the third period, Gospel pulled off a spectacular save to deny Keck at 46.28 before Sam Duggan put the Blaze 4-1 in front at 48.55 via a superb pass from Vanya Antonov.
The Storm, though, responded almost immediately with Dallas Ehrhardt firing the puck past Owen on a powerplay after Max Krogdahl was penalised for tripping.
With just under two minutes to play, the Storm pulled Gospel for the extra skater and the move paid dividends when Maxime Fortier scored at 58.48.
Owen and the Blaze weren’t to be denied victory though as they weathered the remaining 72 seconds to secure the 4-3 win.