Venus secures Blaze OT victory after Hedley heroics
An overtime goal from Ross Venus and a 41-save performance by netminder Jordan Hedley secured the Coventry Blaze a hard-fought 4-3 win over the Nottingham Panthers in the Elite Series on Saturday.
Hedley was given the start in goal in place of Shane Owen, while the Blaze also saw Nick Jermain return to the line-up after missing the last game against the Manchester Storm. The Panthers were at full strength, with Ben Bowns starting in goal against the Blaze for the first time in the series.
The Blaze got off to a slow start, with the Panthers applying the majority of the offensive pressure and Hedley making a number of good early saves. But, it was Coventry who took the lead somewhat against the run of play when they got a breakaway and Mike Hammond found Tristan Keck who beat Bowns at 16.32.
The second period was a similar story to the first, with the Panthers creating more offensive chances, and their pressure finally paid dividends when Hedley failed to control a rebound from a shot from Kevin Domingue after a face-off in the Blaze zone and Christophe Boivin fired the puck home for his sixth goal of the series at 38.58.
The Blaze, though, re-took the lead with 11 seconds remaining in the period when Keck broke away past Brendan Ellis and fired the puck over Bowns' shoulder for his second goal of the night, and series-leading ninth of the competition at 39.49.
With Hedley continuing to deny the Panthers, the Blaze went 3-1 in front when Luke Ferrara fired home from the high slot from a pass from Janne Laakkonen on the powerplay at 49.22.
Afterwards, the Blaze found themselves in penalty trouble and the Panthers took advantage of a five-on-three opportunity to pull one back, with Austin Cangelosi scoring from a pass from Boivin at 52.12.
With just over four minutes left, the Panthers levelled things up when Mark Matheson fired the puck through traffic from the point and past Hedley at 55.55.
The Blaze had a great opportunity to seal the win in regulation when Matheson was sent to the penalty box for roughing at 58.32, but despite heavy pressure they couldn't find a way past Bowns, and it was left to Venus to seal the win when he crashed the net and forced the puck home at 61.33 after good work by Jermain.