The Genting Casino Coventry Blaze will enjoy a Happy New Year after beating the Nottingham Panthers for a second consecutive night, 2-4 at Motorpoint Arena.
The Panthers had two early powerplay opportunities and they made the second one count at 5.40 when Alexander Lunsjo was Johnny-on-the-spot to put home a Westin Michaud shot past Taran Kozun.
Blaze responded in perfect fashion, tying the game less than two minutes later (7.29) when Blake Thompson’s shot found the net thanks to a good screen by Aidan Spellacy.
The strike was the Canadian defenceman’s first goal for the Blaze and his 13th point of the regular season.
Kozun did well to deny Joe Hazeldine just after the ten-minute mark which led to Blaze having a 2-on-1 chance at the other end and they took advantage with Kim Tallberg firing his eighth of the campaign past Rok Stojanovic.
The middle period ended scoreless but was most notable for Panthers’ Myles McGurty being ejected on a kneeing major penalty with 2.39 left in the period. The recipient Spellacy was not to return to the game.
The Panthers were able to kill of the five-minute penalty but were put further behind at 47.09 when Jack Hopkins scored what turned out to be the game-winner against his former club in his hometown.
The goal was Hopkins’ first in the league for Coventry and at 53.08 Ian McNulty further quieted the large home crowd with a fourth for Blaze.
Chasing a way to get into the game, the Panthers pulled Stojanovic with 2.46 to play and the gamble paid off when the dangerous Mathieu Lemay scored at 58.20, but ultimately it wasn’t to be enough as the Blaze ended 2023 victorious.
Photo credit: Adam Gouldson