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Peterborough Pirates 5
Coventry Blaze 4  (OT)

A stormy encounter at Peterborough ended with a nail-biting climax that left Coventry Blaze’s season hanging by a thread.

The game, as ever when the Pirates are involved, was physical, and mired in controversy.

In a noisy cauldron such as the Pirates’ rink, any tight game is bound to be tense, and officials are bound to make mistakes.

But the loss of captain Steve Chartrand, sent off during the second period, convinced the away fans that officialdom was conniving against them once again.

As Chris Jamieson, again proving a thorn in the Blaze’s side, broke clear, he was caught by Chartrand, and went tumbling to the floor like a sack of potatoes.

That he managed to lose both his gloves and his helmet as he sank to the ice could have gained him points for artistic merit, but it brought the Pirates a much greater prize.

The Blaze, trailing 2-0 at this point thanks to goals by Jamieson and Shields, were stunned that the talismanic Chartrand was given more than a two minute penalty, and couldn’t believe it when he received a game penalty.

But in a way it proved the wake up call, as the whole team began to contribute. Jon Cotton’s third for Peterborough after the Pirates laid siege to the Blaze goal saw the beginnings of an inspired comeback.

Where there are goals, there’s hope, and Tasker tucked in one shot after Ratianen spilled a shot from Watkins.

Generally Raitanen was solid, and with Newman performing impressively, the Pirates defence looked like it would hold.

The style started to return to the Blaze, as the impressive Soderstrom rode several tackles, to get close before Ruggles scored the second goal, as he and Dumas scooped up the pieces from Cooper’s shot.

Going into the third period, the stage was set for a humdinger of a match. Coach Paul Thompson emerged from the dressing room to encourage the loud travelling contingent to keep behind their team.

The barmy army went beserk following a bright start as AJ Kelham drew the game level with by scrambling the puck into the net.

Watkins and Shewan went close, but the Blaze twice gave the puck away dangerously close to the goal. Henrik Sjodin was called into action to make several good saves.

But the Blaze were dominant. The game was smooth flowing, which suited their skill, and Kelham scored again to give Blaze the lead for the first time, with just over six minutes to go.

Controversy continued, as the Pirates took a face-off with too many out-players. Instead of receiving a penalty, the referee merely re-took the face-off, much to the ire of the Coventry fans.

The pressure grew, both sets of fans got louder and louder and the Blaze spent a lot of time defending.

It looked like they were going to nick a win that would give them a strong foothold in the semi-final of the play-offs, but with less than a minute remaining an gap appeared around the clustered goal, and Markus scored to level the game.

Into overtime, and Peterborough, boosted by a powerplay, continued to rain in on the Blaze goal, and scored a winner on 61.42.

The goal was soft, as Darren Cotton skated round the net and tucked it past the desperately flailing Sjodin.

Inconsistent goal-keeping has been the bane of the Blaze’s season, and they must now rely on others to slip up to get through.

If Coventry can beat Milton Keynes twice this coming weekend, they must hope that Peterborough do not get two points from two games against Guildford. If the Pirates show the spirit of yesterday, the Blaze’s season will end.

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

Penalty minutes : 20-41

Shots on goal : 36-45

Referee : Michael Evans

Pirates : Jamieson 1+2; D.Cotton 1+1; Shields 1+1; J.Cotton 1+0; Markus 1+0; McEwen 0+2; Mackie 0+1; Morgan 0+1; Pallister 0+1.  Net - Raitanen 45/4

Blaze : Kelham 2+1; Tasker 1+2; Ruggles 1+0; Cooper 0+2; Dumas 0+1; Knights 0+1; Watkins 0+1.  Net - Sjodin 36/5
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CWN / Sport / Ice Hockey / Coventry Blaze / 12 Mar 01
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