Coventry Blaze 1 Nottingham Panthers 5

It was with some trepidation that I ventured to the Skydome yesterday as it’s always a difficult place to go, no matter how poor this season’s Blaze team is perceived. However, I needn’t have worried. Panthers produced such a dominant performance that I wondered if I had gone to sleep and woken up back in September! For me it was the best the team have played in 2011, and yes maybe it is a case of too little, too late as far as the league is concerned, but I have criticised the team when they have played badly so it’s only fair that I praise them when they play well.

Panthers came right out of the gates with a blast, obviously stung by the Blaze DJ playing the theme to “The Muppet Show” as the team came out (thanks for the team talk “Muppet”!). Three shots and three goals by 6.54. The first saw Corey Neilson switch a pass across Brett Jaeger for David Alexandre Beauregard to poke home into an empty net. The second saw Beauregard play a superb backhand pass to Jeff Heerema who found the target. The third was a trademark David Clarke slapshot from right point, set up by Matt Myers. Blaze, understandably, took a time out so Paul Thompson could look red and irritated! Trying to gain some momentum, Jason Robinson offered out Guillaume Lepine after an attempted hit on Rob Bellamy on the boards. From the away end it looked like three punches and down, but from side on Robinson ducked Lepine’s three bombs before losing balance and hitting the deck. Probably a wise move! With Robinson getting an extra two minutes for interference, the Panthers had a powerplay opportunity. As the Blaze player came out of the box, the puck came to Stevie Lee at point who powered a shot past Jaeger for 4-0, Sexy Neilson Hockey indeed!

The Blaze were the better team in the second, no doubt after a huge interval rollicking from Coach Thompson, who by now was turning a rather dangerous looking shade of puce! But Sexy Neilson Hockey was by now Sensible Neilson Hockey as Panthers played a superb defensive game. When Blaze did get through they were finding Craig Kowalski in outstanding form. Another fight did keep the crowd entertained as Rob Bellamy creamed a Blaze player into the boards. Fair play to Matt Soderstrom of Blaze for dropping the gloves with Bellamy, but the Panthers man won the fight easily. The Blaze did manage a breakthrough before the end of the period, Luke Fulghum managing to squeeze the puck home. Could Blaze come back in the third?

The answer was no. Despite several powerplay opportunities, all expertly killed by efficient Panthers special teams, Blaze couldn’t find another goal. panthers saw out the game and added a cherry on top of the icing on the cake as Heerema skated down the right wing, cut inside, faked the shot then put a wrister past the stranded Jaeger into the top corner.

As I said previously, a great Panthers performance. Especially pleasing was the way the closed down the game with some excellent defensive hockey, lead by Neilson. If this tactic had been employed more earlier in the season we could still be in the title race. However, no point in looking to the past, in the future there are two trophies still to win, play like this and we stand a great chance of winning both.

Highlights of the game are available at Blaze TV on this link


1 Response to “Coventry Blaze 1 Nottingham Panthers 5”

  1. 1 Robin February 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Thanks for the write-up, Jono, very decent. I tuned into your live feed part way through the second period and wanted to rub my eyes when I saw the score! Great to have some good news, and hopefully we can finish the season with our heads high if not our league standing.

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