Blaze give fans early Christmas present

Coventry Blaze gave their supporters the perfect early Christmas present with a comprehensive 8-3 win over the Guildford Flames at the Skydome Arena.

The Blaze were without injured Canadian forward David Broll and gave a home debut to new American netminder C.J. Motte, who replaced Jamie Phillips on the roster last week. The Flames started Wouter Peeters in goal instead of Travis Fullerton.

The Blaze made an energetic start to the first period and took the lead after just 63 seconds when leading goalscorer Luke Ferrara netted his 20th goal of the season in all EIHL competitions. Although they failed to convert a 5 on 3 powerplay into another goal, the Blaze extended their lead just over halfway through the period when Matt Pohlkamp tipped a Dillon Lawrence shot past Peeters at 10.32. And just over three minutes later Pohlkamp scored his second of the night, and the Blaze’s third, firing the puck home from right in front at 13.42.

But the home side suffered a setback later in the period when captain Drew Schiestel was hurt blocking a shot on the penalty kill. Schiestel managed to leave the ice unaided but took no further part in the game.

The Blaze made a quick start to the second period and added a fourth goal on 21.30 when Chris Pohlkamp joined his older brother on the scoresheet, firing home a rocket from just inside the blue line. And it was 5-0 at 26.44 when Janne Laakkonen was on hand to tuck home a rebound from a Ferrara shot.

The start of the third period saw the Blaze quickly make it 6-0 through Dillon Lawrence at 40.59. That goal spelt the end of the night for Flames netminder Peeters, who was replaced by Mike Will. But just 11 seconds after the switch the Blaze went 7-0 in front when a shot from Andrew Johnston somehow made it into the Flames net at 41.10.

The Flames finally broke CJ Motte’s shutout at 42.44 when Cam Braes scored, and added a second less than two minutes late when Calle Ackered rifled home a bullet of a shot on the powerplay, leading to Blaze head coach Danny Stewart calling a timeout to try and settle his team back down. Johnston added the Blaze’s eighth at 52.18 before the Flames scored a late consolation goal through Brett Ferguson at 59.29, despite the protests of Motte and the Blaze bench that the puck had been kicked in.

Motte was named man of the match for the Blaze after saving 36 of 39 shots, while Ferguson took the award for the Flames.

After the game, head coach Danny Stewart said: “We played a good 120 minutes of hockey this weekend and guys got rewarded tonight. It was good to see some goals get in. We played physical, we defended well tonight, and C.J. was great.” 

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