By Kris Smith
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Game 21: Coventry Blaze V Manchester Storm
Saturday afternoon sees the Blaze and the Storm meet for the final time in this regular season and with only one point separating the two sides, they will both be determined to win.
Saturday 24 April, Face-off: 14:00
CB – 4-4-2
MS – 5-4-1
Mike Hammond – 18 points in 10 games (5G, 13A)
Tristan Keck – 17 points in 10 games (12G, 5A)
Nick Jermain – 10 points in 9 games (1G, 9A)
Scott Simmonds – 14 points in 10 games (5G, 9A)
Ciaran Long – 10 points in 10 games (6G, 4A)
Maxime Fortier – 10 points in 10 games (5G, 5A)
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Coventry still have two options available in Shane Owen and Jordan Hedley but both are coming into the weekend on the back of losses to Sheffield through the week. However, Owen does lead his teammate in both Goals Against Average and Save Percentage.
Whereas Manchester have started Sean Bonar in 90 per cent of their games this season and Ryan Finnerty looks set to continue to utilise the Canadian, who has five wins to his name.
The Blaze were 4-3 victors in their clash with the Storm but that was only the first time they prevailed against Manchester this season, after losing twice in overtime before, 3-2 and 5-4.
In the last clash, Jacob Lundell Noer, Dallas Ehrhardt and Maxime Fortier all found the net for the Altrincham side, while Mike Hammond, Cole Shudra, Tristan Keck and Sam Duggan provided the goals for Coventry.
Game 22: Sheffield Steelers V Nottingham Panthers
Saturday evening brings another rivalry night as Sheffield and Nottingham collide once again but both sides will be desperate for the two points, as the Steelers can secure their first place finish and the Panthers can moved off the foot of the table.
Saturday 24 April, Face-off: 19:00
SS – 7-3-0
NP – 4-5-1
Tanner Eberle – 16 points in 10 games (8G, 8A)
Liam Kirk – 14 points in 10 games (8G, 6A)
Three players – 12 points
Christophe Boivin – 14 points in 10 games (6G, 8A)
Kevin Domingue – 12 points in 10 games (6G, 6A)
Austin Cangelosi & Mark Matheson – 9 points in 10 games (4G, 5A) & (2G, 7A)
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Sheffield have recently turned to Curtis Warburton and have given the young Brit four stars in a row now but also have Ben Churchfield available, with his 5W-1L record.
Meanwhile, Nottingham have continued to rotate between Ben Bowns and Jackson Whistle and it is most likely that they will again split the games this weekend.
In the last derby clash between these two rivals, Nottingham beat the Steelers for the first time in the Elite Series and in a 4-3 win, they were leading 4-0 after the first period.
Brendan Perlini, Christophe Boivin (2) and Mark Matheson all fired the Panthers into the lead, before Jason Hewitt, Josef Mikyska and Liam Kirk pulled three goals back for Sheffield.
Game 23: Nottingham Panthers V Coventry Blaze
Sunday afternoon then sees the Panthers host the Blaze and again every point will be crucial for determining the final standings.
Sunday 25 April, Face-off: 14:00
Coventry were 4-3 winners after overtime and so far this season, they have yet to lose to the Panthers, with two 3-1 victories earlier in the campaign.
In the last match, Tristan Keck (2), Luke Ferrara and Ross Venus were all on target for the Blaze, while Christophe Boivin, Austin Cangelosi and Mark Matheson bagged the Nottingham goals.
Game 24: Manchester Storm V Sheffield Steelers
Finally, on Sunday night, Sheffield may have already confirmed their first place finish by then but depending on Saturday’s results, they could be in a position to supress the Storm, to make sure Manchester finish fourth and would then meet them in the playoffs.
Sunday 25 April, Face-off: 19:00
The Strom toppled the league leaders by 3 goals to 2 and it was there second victory against Sheffield this season, after they beat them on the opening weekend.
Maxime Fortier, Andreas Klavestad and Ciaran Long all scored for Manchester on the night and Josef Mikyska and Kevin Schulze netted the Steelers two goals.
(Featured Picture: Karl Denham)