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

Virtual Blaze Awards: Coventry celebrate third-place finish

Following the EIHL’s abandonment, Coventry Blaze finished the season in third position, their highest finish since winning the league title in 2010. Danny Stewart’s side were the inform team throughout the second half of the season, ending the campaign on a streak of seventeen matches without defeat in regulation time.

Had it not been for the EIHL’s premature curtailment amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the belief around the Skydome Arena was that the club was on course to reach the Play-Off Finals Weekend for the first since reaching the final in 2016. The Blaze finished their campaign with a last-grasp victory over Dundee Stars, the final game before the club announced the winners of 2019/20 Virtual Blaze Awards.

Luke Ferrara was the biggest winner at the Virtual Blaze Awards, scooping five awards as he became the first British player to finish the season as the league’s top scorer in the Elite League era.

Broll scored nine goals and notched nine assists, but became a fan favourite for his commitment on both sides of the puck

Imposing Canadian forward, David Broll scooped the first award, named Kevin White Clubman of the Season by head coach, Danny Stewart. In his debut season outside of North America, Broll scored nine goals and notched nine assists, but became a fan favourite for his commitment on both sides of the puck. Stewart praised Broll’s “initial buy-in from the start,” praising his dedication to the “staff, the organisation, the city, fans and most importantly his teammates.”

C.J. Motte was awarded Play of the Season for his spectacular save on the road against Glasgow Clan. The American netminder joined the Blaze from HC Innsbruck in December, making an immediate impact on his home debut by starring in the Blaze’s emphatic 8-3 win over Guildford Flames. Motte finished the season with league’s highest save percentage and rated among the best minders in the EIHL.

As voted for by the fans, Motte was also awarded Defenseman of the Season – a remarkable achievement for a player who only made twenty-four appearances in his debut half-season for the club. Motte’s impressive performances between the pipes and murdering antics during Ross Venus’ testimonial match, made the American ‘stopper an immediate fan favourite.

Charles Corcoran’s meandering charge to the net against Glasgow Clan in November was awarded Goal of the Season

Most Improved Player of the Season was awarded to Alex Forbes after winning a vote among the supporter. In his third season as an Elite League player, and his second with the Blaze, Forbes contributed ten points in forty-five appearances, double the amount he notched in 2019 despite playing in a significantly fewer number of matches.

Charles Corcoran’s meandering charge to the net against Glasgow Clan in November was awarded Goal of the Season, perhaps the most obvious choice for the honour! Corcoran, while contributing to the Blaze’s penalty kill, “skated around like it [was] public skating,” according to club commentator, Ed Kimberley, before finding twine for the Blaze.

Hit of the Season went to Chris Pohlkamp for his efforts against Nottingham Panthers’ Sam Herr. Pohlkamp brought Herr’s drive to the net to an abrupt end at the Skydome Arena, stopping the Panthers forward in his tracks in centre ice. In his first season in Europe, Pohlkamp notched sixteen points in forty-eight appearances for the Blaze.

Ferrara was also named British Player of the Year and Forward of the Year in a season that the Blaze forward truly caught the attention of supporters from around the league

Home grown forward, Ross Venus, took the honour for ending the campaign with the best +/- ratio after scoring fifteen times in his testimonial year with the club. Venus’ fine from for the Blaze saw him return to the national team for the first time since 2016, appearing for Team GB in an Olympic qualifying tournament earlier this year.

It was, however, a season to remember for, Team GB forward, Ferrara, who was awarded Players’, Coach’s and Fans’ Player of the Season. Ferrara was also named British Player of the Year and Forward of the Year in a season that the Blaze forward truly caught the attention of supporters from around the league. In an announcement on social media, Ferrara thanked the supporters for their “love and support,” adding that “it’s a team effort, it always has been and it always will be.” Ferrara thanked his teammates and family for their support, adding that he is “just grateful [that] all [his] teammates and friends made it home safe.”

The final Virtual Blaze Award, Champagne Moment of the Season, was awarded to Ferrara’s last-grasp winner in the final match of the season against Dundee Stars, a fitting end to a season of exhilarating highs for the Skydome Arena club.

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