By Kris Smith
Stars went down to Blaze in a game that was tight until the end but one positive for Pacha’s side is they again scored in the opening period.
Joshua Crane, Matthew Maurice, Oliver Lord, Dominik Florian and Edward Knaggs were all missing from the Coventry line-up, while the injured Petr Chaloupka did not ice for Dundee.
The game started off with some good work down low by Stars defenders, Drydn Dow and Connor Cox. They prevented Ben Lake from getting close to the Stars goal inside the first minute. Stars took the first penalty of the game after Cox was called for interference in the second minute.
There was a dangerous chance for Blaze on the powerplay but Tim Crowder could not get on the end of a pass towards goal. Dundee were punished in the fourth minute for having too-many men on the ice and went back on the penalty kill. Stars netminder, Pontus Sjögren made a big stop then covered the rebound to keep the game scoreless.
Stars were creating most of the offensive chances and captain, Johan Andersson picked-up on a mistake in the Coventry defence. The Swede took the puck and fired a backhanded shot off the crossbar. Dundee’s Jordan Cownie was next to test the home goalie, he moved in at speed and fired a shot that trickled through Miika Wiikman but he reached back to pull it off the line with the paddle of his stick. Then Matt Bissonnette missed a chance at the backdoor as Dundee continued to dominate the play.
Cownie rushed back to his own end when Coventry created an odd-man rush and the Scot got back to break up the play before playing in his Danish teammate, Lukas Lundvald who went through on a breakaway only to be denied by Wiikman. In the 14thminute, Charles Corcoran blocked a pass in the Blaze end and François Bouchard caught the puck. He dropped it at his feet before evading a diving defenceman and beat Wiikman high.
Following the goal, Danny Stewart called a timeout but his side ended up on the penalty kill in the 19thminute after Kevin Morris tripped Lundvald after a tussle at the face-off. The first period concluded with Stars in the lead and Omar Pacha’s side would have many chances to build on it in the second.
The home side killed off the remaining time on Morris’ minor before Stars were straight back into their attacking gear after the restart. Lundvald played a dangerous pass in front of the Blaze goal but none of his teammates could get onto the other end of it.
Crowder forced another big stop from Sjögren before Dundee went on the powerplay when Chris Joyaux was penalised for tripping in the 24thminute.After the penalty expired, a fight broke out behind the play as Joyaux and Ricci dropped the gloves. Ricci was unable to get in position and it was a short fight in which one heavy blow decided it as the pair collapsed to the ice.
Stars were getting forward well again, Corcoran went in close before sending a pass to the back post but no one was able to finish the move before the defence intervened. Jake Hansen was denied by an excellent save from Sjögren whilst on a breakaway before Lake went through on goal moments later. Blaze had gotten men forward but Lundvald cut out his pass.
The visitors were back on the powerplay when Alex Forbes was sent to the box for hooking on the 28-minute mark. Dundee had not scored before Hansen was deemed guilty of the same offence with two seconds left on the original penalty. The West Midland’s side seen off both penalties without conceding but were in trouble again when Nicolai Bryhnisveen was binned for interference in the 33rdminute.
As the Dundee penalty was nearing its expiration, Shawn Boutin tripped a Coventry forward who was driving at the Stars net and Blaze scored from resulting powerplay. Crowder used the defender as a screen and fired a low shot past Sjögren in the 35thminute. 38 seconds later the home team took the lead, a shot was fired in from the blueline at a crowd in front of the Stars net and the rebound dropped to Crowder, who slid it past the Stars goalie.
The second period ended just after a two-minute penalty against Lake had expired and left Dundee zero for five on the powerplay in the middle stanza.
The third period began with Boutin being boxed for a similar foul he caused earlier in the match. Once the Canadian was out of the box, Stars began to attack again. Nothing came from their attacking play before Stars were back shorthanded, Dow made a high hit to stop a quick break from Coventry and that left him in the box for 12 minutes on a 2+10 for a check to the head call in the 46thminute.
A brilliant block from the Stars defence kept the Coventry powerplay out before Fabrizio Ricci almost levelled the game when redirected a shot in front of Wiikman but it slipped wide of the post. The penalty ended and Stars fired another shot in from the blueline and there was a bunch of players in front of the net. Matt Marquardt was able to find the puck and lift it over Wiikman in the 49thminute to draw Dundee level.
Coventry re-took the lead through Morrisafter Alex Nikiforuk drilled a shot from high in the Stars zone and it was tipped by Morris and that was enough to fool Sjögren in the 53rdminute. Dundee’s energy levels and tempo did not drop, however with just over two minutes to play, a delayed penalty was called against Brian Hart, he went to the penalty box for holding.
Omar Pacha made the choice to pull his netminder and level the playing field. Inevitably, Coventry found the open net after Hansen resisted the urge to shoot. He rounded the net and passed to Justin Hache, who smashed the puck into the net with 45 seconds left. Pacha pulled his goalie again in search of some sort of miracle and with Ben Lake waiting high-up the ice, his team won the puck back and sent him through on goal and he rounded off the scoring with Blaze’s fifth of the night with just 12 seconds remaining.
Lake and Bissonnette had a small scrap after buzzer but it was quickly stopped by the linesmen. ‘Man of the Match’ awards were given to Miika Wiikman and Dundee’s Shawn Boutin.
Stars travel back to Tayside to face defending champions, Cardiff Devils who defeated Nottingham Panthers in Wales last night and Omar Pacha will still be looking for that response from his side.