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Coventry Blaze 6
Peterborough Pirates 3

Stylish Coventry Blaze kept their play-off hopes well on track by cruising past an unimaginative Peterborough side, despite some early scares.

Previously this season, the Blaze have failed to get back on track if they have fallen behind to the Pirates.

But this time they retained their shape, fluidity and confidence to run out smooth winners.

Following a 3-1 defeat away at champions Guildford on Saturday, it leaves Paul Thompsonís side in a reasonable position in the play-off tables.

It didn't look like it was going to be an easy win last night at the Skydome, which was disappointingly empty, but had the largest paying crowd of the season.

The Pirates started well in an even opening period, and took the lead through Mark Mackie during a powerplay.

A feeling of gloom started to spread among the home fans seconds later when a shot from Darren Cotton sneaked past Barry Hollyhead, who had a good game, but was slow on that occasion.

Coventry were unable to get as many shots on goal as they are accustomed to in the opening period, until Steve Chartrand showed his value once again to bring his side back into the game.

One bulldozing run from goal-to-goal didnít get anywhere, but the captain scored Blazeís first with a superb run and a one-two with Dumas while Coventry were short-handed.

The long-awaited dream line-up of Dumas, Ruggles and Chartrand were flying, and Ruggles scored the home teamís second goal with a dazzling solo run within a minute of the opener to put the teams on level terms.

A rare mistake by Stephen Cooper let Jamieson in for the Piratesí third, but the first period ended on level pegging after Johnson bundled a goal home.

The second period was like chess, but more physical. GB international Shaun Johnson took a nasty blow from the puck, and for a while it looked as if the Blaze would have more injuries to contend with Ė as Samuelsson, Knights and Twaite were already missing.

Tasker and Shewan both made good runs, Hollyhead was forced into several saves and Pease had to make some good tackles in defence, as the Blaze failed to cut loose.

That the Pirates were slowly starting to lose the initiative could be seen by number of heavy body checks they made, and Raitanen started to come under a volley of fire in the Peterborough goal.

Tempers were edging up when Dumas scored a classic poacherís goal off a rebound from a Shewan shot during a power play to give Blaze the lead for the first time.

In the third period Raitanen was called into action time after time as the Blaze tried to get that important two goal lead.

When Chartrand scored the fifth on 44.09, the relief was obvious among the whole team, and the Blazeís confidence moved up another notch.

The sixth goal came, after a good tackle by Pease and more splendid vision by Chartrand set Dumas up, and Coventry were jubilant.

By this stage, Peterborough had no answers, and rarely went for the puck as they tried to barge the Blaze into submission.

This tactic merely gave the Blaze the platform on which to show off their skills, as player after player coasted around the floundering Pirates.

There were no more goals, but the Blaze reigned supreme. If they can repeat that performance at Peterborough next weekend, and get something out of Guildford when the Surrey side come to the Skydome on Saturday, the semi-finals could well be beckoning.

Period scores: 3-3/1-0/2-0

Penalty minutes: 8-20

Shots on goal: 38-18

Attendance: 1705

Referee: Graham Horner

Blaze: Dumas 2+2; Chartrand 2+1; Johnson 1+1; Ruggles 1+0; Shewan 0+2; Cooper 0+1; Kelham 0+1; Soderstrom 0+1.  Net - Hollyhead 18/3

Pirates: D.Cotton 1+0; Jamieson 1+0; Mackie 1+0; McEwen 0+2; Markus 0+1; Morgan 0+1; Pallister 0+1.  Net - Raitanen 38/6
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CWN / Sport / Ice Hockey / Coventry Blaze / 5 Mar 01
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