Powerplay strikes help Flames overcome Blaze
Two powerplay strikes in the opening period helped the Guildford Flames to a 3-2 victory over the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze at the Spectrum.
Danny Stewart's side were boosted by the return of the Elite League's top-scorer Marco Vallerand following two weeks out of action through injury. New signings Dorian Peca and Alex Miner Barron made their debuts whilst Vojtech Kloz sat out the second game of his three suspension. Swedish defenceman Gustav Ahnelov being the unlucky healthy scratch to abide by import rulings.
Coventry found themselves in early penalty trouble taking 4 minors in the opening twenty minutes, punished twice by the Flames. The opener came at 8.47, Canadian forward Brett Ferguson, who had an overtime winner against the Blaze earlier in the season first scoring on the man advantage.
Mikael Lidhammar, assisted by former Blaze forward Ben Davies and the Elite League's top-point scorer John Dunbar made it 2-0 (10.01). The away side hit back through their Man of the Match, player/Assistant Coach Brett Robinson (14.33) but his team were to be punished again on the powerplay as Ian Watters made it 3-1 (18.19) before the first period break.
The middle twenty began with Blaze killing an extended 5-on-3 before Vallerand registered his 25th of the season (30.59) for 3-2. The Flames though were to maintain their lead after 40 minutes, heavily out-shooting their opponents 28-10, assisted by 6 powerplay opportunities with Blaze not have any of their own.
The elusive 5-on-4 chance came for the visitors five minutes into the final session, Guildford however killing the tripping penalty to Davies, Blaze's only powerplay of the night, Flames in the end going 2/7 and outshooting Coventry 37-20.
The Midlands side's frustrations showed in the final seconds, with Kevin Nastiuk pulled for the extra skater, Vallerand was assessed a cross-checking penalty by referees Mike Hicks and Stefan Hogarth, all but ending Coventry's chances of an equaliser. The Canadian forward receiving a 10 minute misconduct for abuse of official shortly before the final buzzer ending the game 3-2.
Head Coach Danny Stewart said, "It's very difficult to win on the road when you spend that much time on the penalty-kill in the first half of the game. Ultimately it cost us. I liked our fight back though and felt in the 2nd 30 minutes we got back to our game. We had a great chance to tie with 30 seconds left but their goalie somehow found a way to get his pad out. We go again tomorrow against a similar type team (Fife Flyers), and we need to learn from tonight and play a lot smarter!"