Blaze frustrated by Stars

The Genting Casino Coventry Blaze were left frustrated as the Dundee Stars skated away with a 1-2 victory from Skydome Arena on Saturday.

American defenceman Chase Hartje made his Blaze debut and creative forward Danny Kristo returned to the line-up following injury. Tyler Kirkup missed out and Archie Hazeldine was allowed to ice for Telford Tigers as part of his two-way agreement with the NIHL side.

Seeking to close a four-point gap on the fifth Blaze, Dundee (seventh) took an early lead at 1.07 when top goal scorer Spencer Naas netted his 25th of the regular season.

Coventry had two powerplay opportunities to tie the game before the half-way mark but couldn’t capitalise on either.

Kevin Carr was able to deny Danny Kristo and Ian McNulty on Coventry’s big chances, and the home side went into the locker room frustrated through 40 minutes of play. 

The game bust into life in the third period, with incident aplenty. It began by Blaze getting themselves level through the returning Kristo who took advantage of Carr getting caught in two minds behind his own net and playing the puck to the Blaze forward who fired it into the empty goal at 46.21.

A couple of minutes later, Blaze earned a third powerplay chance, but it was cut short as Kim Tallberg was assessed a diving penalty on what the Coventry bench argued was a tripping call on the opposition.

On the resulting 4-on-4, Dundee found a game winner at 41.04 through the league’s top point producer Ryan Valentini who also had the primary assist on Naas’ opener to take his tally to 48 (20 goals, 28 assists).

Canadian defenceman Xavier Pouliot collected an assist on both goals and the man of the match award capped off an impressive debut for the Stars’ debutant.

The never say die Blaze pushed for a late equaliser and they thought they had it with 22 seconds remaining, but following a lengthily video review after the goal was given, the puck was assessed to not have crossed the line much to the anger of coach Danny Stewart.

With goalie Taran Kozun pulled for the extra skater, Coventry still had time to generate a couple of chances, but the equaliser wasn’t to be as Kristo’s attempt on the buzzer ringed the outside of the post.

Photo credit: Scott Wiggins

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