Powerplay decisive as Blaze beat Panthers
Two powerplay goals proved decisive as the Coventry Blaze beat the Nottingham Panthers 3-1 in their fifth game of the 2021 Elite Series.
The Blaze had Shane Owen back in goal and moved Cole Shudra into the forwards, with Alex Forbes playing on defence. The Panthers started Jackson Whistle in goal, backed up by Will Kerlin, and made a late change after warm-up when Mark Garside was scratched and Morgan Clarke-Pizzo added to the line-up.
Both sides started brightly, with Whistle and Owen making early saves, before the Blaze took the lead on the game's first powerplay. With Josh Tetlow in the penalty box for two minutes for hooking, the Blaze worked the puck to Nicolai Bryhnisveen at the point who fired past Whistle at 7.36.
The Panthers got a powerplay when Ross Venus was erroneously called for slashing, but, despite being a man short, the Blaze created space for Tristan Keck who skated almost the full length of the ice and fired the puck over Whistle’s shoulder and into the net for his fourth goal of the series to make it 2-0 at 12.20.
With Max Krogdahl rather unluckily given 2+2 for roughing along with the Panthers' Bobby Chamberlain at 15.01, the Panthers put pressure on the Blaze defence and created a number of chances, but Owen stood tall. The period ended with the Panthers on a powerplay after Forbes was given two minutes for hooking at 18.47.
The second period saw the Panthers apply early pressure on the Blaze net, with a pass across the crease just eluding Brett Perlini’s stick.
Again, both sides created chances, with Whistle making good stops from Chris Pohlkamp and Shudra, before a period of sustained pressure from the Panthers towards the end of the period finally paid dividends when Christophe Boivin tapped home at the back door at 38.39.
The Blaze finished the period on the penalty kill after Janne Laakkonen was given 2+2 for high sticks at 38.54, with a bleeding Brendan Ellis having to leave the ice for treatment.
The Blaze killed the remaining 2.54 of the Laakkonen penalty at the start of the third period but continued to absorb a lot of offensive pressure as the Panthers sought to get back on level terms.
But, after Mark Matheson was called for hooking, the Blaze scored their third goal - and second powerplay goal of the afternoon - when Simen Andre Edvardsen scored at the back door following a great saucer pass from Ross Venus at 48.42.
Whistle pulled off an excellent save from Sam Duggan on a breakaway to keep the Panthers in the game. But despite pulling their netminder for the extra skater with more than two minutes left, the Panthers could not find another way past Owen who ended the game with 48 saves.
Head Coach Danny Stewart said: "I'm really happy. I loved our compete and willingness to put our bodies on the line. It's a good sign for our group.
"There are still a few areas we need to clean up but overall it was a great win."
The Blaze next take on the Sheffield Steelers on Tuesday night in the Elite Series (7pm).
All of the action will be streamed live online via: eliteleague.tv