The Coventry Blaze took a huge step towards securing second place in the Elite Series standings as Tristan Keck netted his first professional hat-trick to help Danny Stewart’s side defeat the Manchester Storm 6-3.
In a contest that ebbed and flowed throughout, Coventry ended the first frame with a two-goal lead thanks to contributions from Team GB forward Ross Venus and NCAA graduate Keck.
Both first period goals came with an odd number of skaters on the ice, with Venus scoring on the man-advantage and Keck finding twine while shorthanded.
The second period saw Ryan Finnerty’s side storm into the lead, with Dallas Ehrhardt, Jacob Noer, and Ben Lake finding routes past Blaze goalie Shane Owen.
The final period saw a reversal of the second, with Coventry scoring four times in nine minutes to secure a memorable win over the Storm.
Three minutes later, David Clements scored one of the goals of the tournament, skating coast to coast before firing past Sean Bonar to give Coventry a deserved lead while on the powerplay.
A little over a minute later, Keck combined with Team GB centreman Mike Hammond to secure his second and Coventry’s fifth goal of the afternoon.
Keck completed his hat-trick in the dying seconds of the game, scoring into an empty net, assisted once again by Hammond.
Credit to them, they showed a lot of character bouncing back
– Danny Stewart
“We came out in the second [period] and lost our focus a little bit,” Stewart said in his post-game comments, “we probably had three or four turnovers in the space of three of four shifts. We were clear after the second [period to the players] that the honeymoon period is over.
“There’s been times in this event when we’ve maybe blamed things on our immaturity, our youth, but I won’t go to that tonight. It was our older guys, our more experienced guys, who were making the mistakes. Credit to them, they showed a lot of character bouncing back… a great third period.”
1st – Tristan Keck: “Yeh, he’s on some run,” Coventry Blaze head coach Danny Stewart said of Tristan Keck’s recent form. “He’s been great for us. His speed, his ability to get into those areas [is so important].”
Yep, it’s hard to argue with this take from Mr Stewart. Keck is the Elite Series’ leading scorer, is on a ten-game goal streak, and has registered a point in each of his eleven appearances.
“Credit to his linemates, too,” Stewart continued, “Hammond is always giving him those plays, and Nick [Jermain] – now that he’s healthy – is creating a lot of energy for him.”
During a pandemic, Keck has burst onto the professional scene whilst hundreds of miles from home.
The American winger has scored more Elite Series goals than 75 other players have registered points.
2nd – David Clements: Days after being called up for the British national team, Coventry-born David Clements had the AUDACITY to skate the length of the ice before scoring past Sean Bonar. It’s been a great week for the 26-year-old, that goal just tops it off.
3rd – Coventry’s Special Teams: The Blaze continued their fine form on the powerplay, scoring at a 0.285 clip this afternoon. Coventry’s penalty kill was perfect, stifling Manchester’s powerplay on four occasions. Bravo!