The Coventry Blaze returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory over the Nottingham Panthers on Sunday afternoon. The result saw Nottingham slide to a second defeat in-a-row and leaves Tim Wallace’s side four points adrift at the bottom of the standings.
Norwegian defenceman Nicolai Bryhnisveen opened the scoring for Coventry after seven minutes, with Tristan Keck doubling the Blaze’s lead five minutes later.
Christophe Boivin halved Coventry’s advantage with two minutes remaining in the second period, assisted by Mark Matheson and Brendan Ellis. However, Simen Andre Edvardsen put the game beyond Nottingham’s reach in the final period, benefiting from a fantastic saucer assist by Ross Venus.
There are still a few areas that we need to clean up but that was a great win
– Danny Stewart
“It was a scrappy win,” Coventry Blaze head coach Danny Stewart said after the final buzzer.
“I loved [my players’] willingness to put their bodies on the line and get inside shot lanes. We absorbed some zone time tonight, there’s no question, but I loved their compete, it’s a good sign for our group.”
“I thought our PK was immense tonight. There are still a few areas that we need to clean up but that was a great win.”
Coventry Blaze 3 – Bryhnisveen PPG (Laakkonen, Keck); Keck SHG (Clements, Hammond); Edvardsen PPG (Venus, Jermain)
Nottingham Panthers 1 – Chrisophe Boivin (Matheson, Ellis)
1st – Tristan Keck: Is it too reductive to open this segment on Tristan Keck by pointing to his speed? The 25-year-old used his backburners to full effect in the first period, driving Coventry up the ice to score a beautiful goal while shorthanded.
The Canadian, one of the Elite Series’ breakout stars, was fantastic in all aspects of his game against the Panthers. The 2019/20 NCAA graduate has already struck up a strong relationship with linemate Nick Jermain, which is a very good sign for the Blaze.
Midway through the second period, Keck made a clever play to intercept the puck on the edge of Coventry’s defensive zone. With the puck in his possession, the Canadian sped through centre ice to create an opportunity for the Blaze. End-to-end effort is what Keck offers. The left-shot forward has made a strong start to the tournament, long may it continue.
2nd – Shane Owen: The former Fife Flyer came in for a lot of criticism for his role in Coventry’s 7-2 loss against the Steelers in midweek… but he bounced back today. Shane Owen was thoroughly dependable for Coventry, backstopping the Blaze to a rare low-scoring victory.
The Canadian ended the afternoon with 48 stops and a 97.96 save percentage. Immense.
3rd – Ross Venus: A revelation on the third line, Ross Venus was a rock for Coventry this afternoon. Handed an opportunity to feature on Coventry’s second powerplay unit, the Solihull-native made the play of the game with his assist on the Blaze’s third goal.
A saucer pass… over a defenceman… from behind the goal-line? Outrageous, Mr Venus.
David Clements: This week, David Clements’ national team status has been a topic of intense discussion among Blaze supporters. The Coventry-born defenceman is yet to feature for the senior national side – but could that soon change?
Clements was incredibly impressive for the Blaze against Nottingham, especially during the first period. First of all, it’s important to note the 1994-born defenceman’s play in the offensive zone. Clements is very comfortable while in possession on the blueline, often moving laterally to create space for his teammates.
In his sixth season with the Blaze, Clements has shown huge improvement in the defensive zone. The 26-year-old broke up several promising Nottingham plays with his stick, reasserting his push for a spot on the plane to Latvia.
Nicolai Bryhnisveen: What can you say about Nicolai Bryhnisveen? The Norwegian defenceman is as close to a box-to-box midfielder as you could find in ice hockey. Bryhnisveen covers every inch of the ice whenever he plays, as was the case against Nottingham.
Like midfielders, own goals don’t exist in hockey… if they did Bryhnisveen’s heavily deflected strike would have fallen into the OG column. It was another entertaining (and strong) performance from the 2018/19 Coventry Blaze Defenceman of the Year.
Chris Pohlkamp: I get the impression that Chris Pohlkamp enjoys playing alongside David Clements. The American returnee was as commendable as ever for Coventry – although it was a pass, rather than a defensive play, that caught my eye.
A line-splitting pass midway through the third period set Venus free, who later drew the penalty that resulted in the Blaze’s third goal. Top work from Pohlkamp.
Simen Andre Edvardsen: Until his final period goal, Simen Edvardsen had a fairly quiet afternoon on the Blaze’s top offensive line. However, the Norwegian forward took his chance with the class befitting of a player angling for a sport at the World Championships. Edvardsen, a strong performer in the face-off circle, has proven to be a “good pick-up” for Coventry.
Alex Forbes – Sam Russell: Ordinarily, I prefer to grade players on an individual basis – but I’m making an exception for Coventry’s third defensive pair of Alex Forbes and Sam Russell. The makeshift duo gelled exceptionally well and looked comfortable when handed defensive zone starts.
Forbes, who usually plays as a forward, was a calming presence on the blueline. Russell, who has played alongside Cole Shudra for much of the tournament, enjoyed his most impactful performance for the Blaze. ‘Forbes – Russell’ has my stamp of approval.
Janne Laakkonen: As Stewart predicted on Thursday, Janne Laakkonen has improved following his reunion with Ferrara. The Finn’s quick hands played a key part in Coventry’s first goal, with the 38-year-old providing the assist for Bryhnisveen.
Luke Ferrara: Fresh from scoring on his Elite Series debut against Manchester, Luke Ferrara enjoyed a quieter afternoon versus the Panthers. The Team GB forward was dangerous on the powerplay, using his reputation as a sniper to distract the Nottingham defence.
Nick Jermain: Racing towards Nottingham’s empty net with seconds left on the clock, Nick Jermain had a golden opportunity to make the score 4-1. Unfortunately, the American forward lost his balance and was forced to watch the puck bounce away.
Last-minute stumble aside, it was another positive afternoon for Jermain, bolstered by his secondary assist on Edvardsen’s goal.
Mike Hammond: Handy on the powerplay and a source of creativity alongside Keck and Jermain, Hammond slipped under the radar a little bit this afternoon. Even so, the Team GB stalwart skates into the night with an assist. Tidy.
Max Krogdahl: A no-nonsense defensive display from Max Krogdahl. Bryhnisveen couldn’t ask for a better partner on the blueline, the Norwegian pair have gelled instantly in white and blue.
Sam Duggan: Like Hammond, Sam Duggan was less active than usual. The Cardiff Devil, however, can fairly claim that he is still adjusting to playing alongside Venus on the third line. Duggan will have better performances in a Coventry Blaze uniform.
Nothing to See: Cole Shudra, Toms Rutkis, Mac Howlett, Vanya Antonov.