The Genting Casino Blaze scored twice in the final ten minutes to come from behind to beat the Nottingham Panthers 4-3 via penalty shots on Saturday at Skydome Arena.
Following a scoreless first period, Blaze got on the board first when David Clements’ shot from the point was tipped into the net by top scorer Kobe Roth at 21.47.
The Panthers hit back on the powerplay on 26.14 when Hugo Roy found Otto Nieminen at the back door who finished expertly.
Nottingham then used the powerplay again to go ahead when their top scorer Mathieu Lemay registered his first of two at 37.42.
Lemay’s solo effort put the Panthers 1-3 ahead on 49.07 and the large Skydome crowd were left to wonder if the final home game of 2023 was going to end in defeat.
As has been a story of the season so far, Coventry’s never say die attitude came out again and Captain Brady Norrish cut the deficit to one on 51.26 via Blaze’s dangerous powerplay.
With the clock ticking down into the final five minutes, defenceman Alexander Kuqali’s hit allowed top point-getter Danny Kristo to break into the Panthers zone and after he alluded a collision along the board, the experienced forward cut into the zone and fired the game-tying goal at 55.24.
With the score tied 3-3 after regulation time, the game went to overtime where with 48 seconds remaining the hot Panthers powerplay had a chance to find a game-winner.
Coventry and goalie Taran Kozun stood firm, though, to take the thriller to a penalty shoot-out.
Alexander Lunsjo registered first for Nottingham but Ian McNulty’s strike, after he missed an opportunity during regulation time, levelled proceedings.
Blaze’s Alessio Luciano was next successful and with Kozun continuing to deny Panthers’ efforts, the Canadian’s effort proved to be the game winner.
Photo credit: Scott Wiggins