Fwd: Saturday report: Blaze fight-back to secure ‘Play-in’ game home advantage
Coventry Blaze came from 1-4 down against the Guildford Flames to end 60 minutes 4-4 and achieve the needed point to gain home advantage for the Challenge Cup ‘Play-in’ game vs. Manchester Storm.
The one-off winner takes all game for a place in the quarterfinals will take place on Wednesday 20th November (7.30pm) at the Skydome Arena.
In the first of two home games over the weekend, the Blaze fell behind at 12.27 when the ever dangerous Kruise Reddick found space in front of net, finishing a John Dunbar pass for 0-1.
It was 1-1 on 15 minutes when the in-form Matt Pohlkamp scored his 5th goal in the last 6 games. The American winning a race to a lose puck to beat Belgian Wouter Peeters, starting in the already qualified Flames’ net ahead of usual starter Travis Fullerton.
On the powerplay Calle Ackered put Guildford 1-2 ahead (34.32) with a huge shot, assisted by Dunbar, his second of the night.
With Owen Griffiths making it 1-3 before the second period break (38.17) the Blaze went to the dressing room with a hill to climb.
It got steeper on 43.45 when former Coventry forward Ben Davies made it 1-4.
Whilst short-handed, Blaze’s top-scorer Evan Bloodoff showed good speed to drive to the net and finish for 2-4, giving the home side hope (45.59).
With Jamie Phillips stopping a penalty shot at 47.58 and Man of the Match Alex Forbes scoring in his 100th game for the club at 49.41, the Blaze went into the final ten minutes knowing a single goal would be enough to gain the crucial ‘Play-in’ game home advantage.
The equaliser came on 56.55 with Captain Drew Schiestel hammering home a shot from the point on the powerplay.
That’s the way it stayed, and the game went into sudden-death 3-on-3 overtime.
With no goals in the additional period, a penalty shootout took place in which Guildford took the victory (4-5) with successful attempts coming from Ackered, Ian Watters and TJ Foster whilst Blaze had just the single reply through Charles Corcoran.
Head Coach Danny Stewart said, “It wasn’t our best but at the end of the day we found a way to scrape a point and get the home advantage for the play-in game. I don’t know if it was nerves, but we didn’t look that urgent in the first. We went down 1-4 and it’s easy to think game over, but ‘Bloodz’ gave us a life-line and I think from then we upped our game, were skating a lot more and doing the things we wanted to do.”