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Coventry Blaze 2
Peterborough Pirates 5

Short of poking the Peterborough netminder’s eyes out and amputating all their out-players’ legs, woeful Coventry Blaze didn’t stand a chance of winning last night.

Losing five goals in the opening 23 minutes put the tie beyond them as a lack of confidence, sloppy play and terrible defending let the Pirates in time after time.

Recent games, against the leading sides in the BNL, have been characterised by the Blaze having stacks more shots, but conceding more goals.

Last night, however, the confidence to take a shot evaporated. The lacklustre imports were taken out of the starting line-up, but no amount of switching around could muster many convincing efforts on goal.

Blaze’s main problem was defending. In the first period every time they lost the puck on the halfway line, Peterborough were left free to run in on an exposed Sjodin.

The first goal was scored by Chris Jamieson of the Pirates when they were short-handed, as Blaze pushed forward leaving half the rink exposed.

The lesson wasn’t learned, and Peterborough must have thought they were on a training sessions and Jamieson scored again, McEwen twice and Hammill.

When the Blaze did get a shot in it was generally long-distance and presented no great difficulty to the hulking Raitanen. Only Samuelsson managed to get a shot in that made any real impact as the netminder collapsed to the ice under the force.

The second period started no better. Whatever was said to the players in the break didn’t work. But Barry Hollyhead, brought on for the unlucky and overexposed Sjodin started to pull off a series of excellent saves that kept the Blaze in the hunt and earned him the man-of-the-match award.

Then, on 31.40, the goal of the game, scored by Claude Dumas for the Blaze. Passing was another of the side’s weaknesses all night – he solved this by taking the puck around the entire Pirates side in a mazy goal-to-goal run.

Dumas was also involved in the Blaze’s second goal in the third period, as part of a good team break. Moving down the right he passed inside to the powerful Cooper, who shrugged off the defence and slotted past Raitenen for his first goal since his move to Hull.

There was time for a comeback. The defence was slightly more organised, with Knights and Cooper forcing the charging Pirates wide to give reinforcements time to return.

Hollyhead had put the shutters up, and after the second gaol the confidence briefly returned. Shots started to ping in at the Pirates goal, but often with no-one following up quickly enough for the rebound.

Mike Tasker missed a sitter with ten minutes to go, having four or five shots against the stranded Raitanen. If that had gone in it would have left the game on.

Instead it fizzled out. Coventry keep looking down the table for a chance for a morale-boosting win. Perhaps second-bottom Edinburgh will provide that opportunity on Sunday. Before then the team must confront last night’s demons again, and travel to Peterborough on Saturday.

Period scores : 0-4/1-1/1-0

Penalty minutes : 8-12

Shots on goal : 38-30

Attendance : 751

Referee : Paul Shuttleworth

Blaze : Dumas 1+1; Cooper 1+0; Samuelsson 0+1; Shewan 0+1.  Nets - Sjodin (20’00) 11/4; Hollyhead (40’00) 19/1

Pirates : Jamieson 2+1; McEwen 2+0; Hammill 1+0; Markus 0+2; Morgan 0+1.  Net - Raitanen 38/2

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CWN / Sport / Ice Hockey / Coventry Blaze / 1 Feb 01
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