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Blaze Face Battle To Stay In Play-Offs

Injury-hit Coventry Blaze face a tense weekend knowing that their season’s fate is in the hands of others but they must still play well against Milton Keynes.

If Peterborough get two points from their matches against Guildford Flames, Coventry’s season is over, even if they go with form and win twice against the Kings in the play-offs.

Last week’s last-gasp defeat at Peterborough and home set-back against Guildford has left the team in this situation.

It’s a position coach Paul Thompson is not happy with as he tries to re-focus his depleted squad, which will be sees team fighter Kurt Irvine join Marc Twaite and Mats Samuelsson on the injured list.

He said:

“I felt that the effort we put in was fine, but we let some goals in that we shouldn’t have. Everyone knows what we have got to do, and if we can’t beat Milton Keynes then we don’t deserve to get into the semi-finals.”

The goal-keeping problem has been the thorn in the Blaze’s side this season. The team can out-shoot any of the opposition, but often find their shots are saved while goals are going in too easily at the other end.

Barry Hollyhead will be back in goal for Saturday’s game at the Kings, hoping to last longer than his last appearance, when he was pulled after letting in several poor goals against Guildford.

Thompson added:

“It’s not going to be an easy game against Milton Keynes. They are our local rivals and they will want to put us out.”

One threat Milton Keynes don’t pose as much as Guildford or Peterborough is a physical one, and the Blaze’s lack of ability to stand up to bigger teams has been another difficulty.

Thompson said:

“Guildford are the only team that intimidates us. Peterborough are big, but they don’t frighten anybody.

“We need more size next season. Last season Fife won with a good skating side and I’ve tried to follow that, but the referees haven’t played it that way.”

Controversy, it seems, is never far away, and captain Steve Chartrand’s dismissal at Peterborough last week was a case in point.

“Chris Jamieson should be playing in Serie A. He’s a cheat. He’s been diving all over the place to get someone sent from the ice.”

“Steve has never been sent from the ice before in 28 years of playing and he shouldn’t have gone then.”

Like it or not, though, Peterborough won, and Thompson’s side, volubly backed by the travelling Blaze fans, must now concentrate on Milton Keynes.

Rumours suggest that Guildford are set to rest Mark McArthur and give their resevere net-minder a game against Peterborough – making the Pirates’ task a lot easier.

It’s a claim that Paul Thompson hopes isn’t true:

”They’ve not used their number two all season. Why would they want to do it now? Guildford haven’t been beaten this year and they will want to keep the winning streak going.

“Are they scared of playing us again or something?”

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CWN / Sport / Ice Hockey / Coventry Blaze / 16 Mar 01
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