Image: Luke James / The Boar
Image: Luke James / The Boar

C.J. Motte the hero as Coventry Blaze ease to 8-3 win over Flames

It was a festive night to remember for Coventry Blaze fans, as Danny Stewart’s side romped to an 8-3 victory over Guildford Flames at the Skydome Arena. Despite losing to the Flames on penalties just 24 hours previously, Coventry Blaze stormed out of the traps to take the lead after just a minute of play, setting the tone for the rest of the evening.

Andrew Johnston and Luke Ferrara combined in the opening stages to give the hosts an early lead, which was doubled nine minutes later by Dillon Lawrence. Lawrence, perhaps the most improved Blaze player from last season, deflected a Matt Pohlkamp slapshot beyond the reach of Wouter Peeters to send the Skydome into raptures.

A remarkable lead, earned through a remarkable performance

Matt Pohlkamp completed the perfect opening period for Stewart’s side by firing a driven shot beyond Peeters, this time assisted by Lawrence from the right flank. With a resounding 3-0 lead going into the break, the Blaze faithful could only pinch themselves as Ross Venus lead his teammates back to the dressing room for the first intermission of the night. A remarkable lead, earned through a remarkable performance.

The second period followed an equally resounding storyline. Just ninety seconds after puck-drop, it was Chris Pohlkamp’s turn to send the Skydome supporters to cloud nine: his slapshot from just inside the blueline proved to be too powerful for Peeters to thwart. Five minutes later, Janne Laakkonen was on hand to tap a rebounded effort into the Flames’ net.

On an evening otherwise defined by sensational offensive play, particularly by the Laakonen-Johnston-Ferrara unit; CJ Motte enjoyed a phenomenal home debut between the pipes, preventing the visitors from finding twine until early in the third period. Motte, a direct replacement for the recently departed Jamie Phillips, was particularly impressive while in possession of the puck, intercepting and passing courageously throughout the match.

Guildford finally found a route passed Motte in the Blaze net

Just 59 seconds into the third period, Blaze pushed further ahead as Lawrence added his name to the scoresheet, capitalising from a loose puck around the Flames’ crease. With the scoreline reading 6-0, Peeters was ushered to the bench by Paul Dixon, ending a painful night for a usually commanding netminder. Dixon’s change of goalie, however, did not halt the assault on his side’s net; Johnston scored Blaze’s seventh of the night just eleven seconds later.

As the third period wore-on, Guildford finally found a route passed Motte in the Blaze net, but Ackered’s, Ferguson’s and Brae’s contributions proved only to be consolations on a disappointing evening for Dixon’s Flames. Johnston rounded-off a superb evening for the hosts with eight minutes remaining in the third period, deking a delicate play beyond Mike Will in the Flames net.

It will be a merry Christmas at the Skydome Arena

Speaking to Blaze TV after the match, Danny Stewart praised CJ Motte for a “brilliant performance” on home ice. Stewart, who was left to rue a missed opportunity to collect an unlikely cleansheet, praised his team for their “net presence”, attributing his side’s victory to their much-improved offensive play.

With Coventry Blaze firmly in the playoffs, it will be a merry Christmas indeed at the Skydome Arena.

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