MANCHESTER STORM 0 – 2 COVENTRY BLAZE
Saturday evening saw the Manchester Storm hosting their First-Ever Teddy Toss game at the Altrincham Ice Rink against the bottom of the table Coventry Blaze and saw things not going to plan at all after being shutout for a second successive game against the Blaze. Last season Manchester had the Indian sign over their opponents from the ‘Godiva City’, but this year has been a complete turnaround and saw the Storm tasting victory against Danny Stewart’s men just once this year.
Early stages saw neither side really taking the game to the other side, but it did see a gilt edged chance fall to Mario Trubucco who with Brian Stewart stranded at the near post saw the puck fall to the Canadian with practically a half-open goal and he somehow managed to miss the target and put it past the far post. From the opening period of play you got the sense that this game was not going to be a high-scoring game by any means and had both teams playing at times conservative.
Coventry was not letting the home side use their speed and fast-attacks, as the Blaze had the measure of the Storm and saw Omar Pacha’s side struggling to break down a tough defence in firstly the visitors defence and then Brian Stewart. With Manchester on powerplay it saw then netminder Mike Clemente interfering with Liam Stewart as he was pressuring the home side near to Storm goals and saw the sides going 4-on-4 after that incident. After Coventry returned to full strength, it saw them on a power play themselves and scored the go-ahead goal after a Josh Godfrey shot from the point was deflected in off the skate by Jordan Pietrus for a 1-0 lead.
Manchester had a late effort in the second period when Connor Varley threw a puck on goal and saw Jack Prince trying to bat it down in front of Stewart while the puck trickled behind him goal wards and Kevin Noble getting back on the line to halt the run and get the whistle. In the third period it saw the Storm throwing caution to the wind and trying to find a goal to tie the game, but they were met but a roadblock by the name of the Blaze defensive unit. Coventry were solid all game and in truth never looked like giving up a goal if the game had gone on all night.
The home side who have been of the league leaders in power play’s this season, saw their special teams having an off night and failed to scored on any of their six extra-man advantages in the contest. Storm didn’t really have any clear-cut chances and that credit to Coventry who stifled their attack all game and then finished off the job with an empty net goal from Brett Robinson and saw the home fans throwing their Teddy Bears onto the ice, with the realisation that their side was to be shut out and may as well make the best of a bad situation.
Away from the game it saw a grand total of 645 Teddy Bears and toys being donated to Manchester’s KEY 103 Mission Christmas event and will see those items being delivered to local Children Hospital’s around Manchester.
The result was a disappointing one and also saw a stat that will not have made for good viewing for Omar Pacha’s side was that they hadn’t scored against Coventry for a total time of 152:16 which is seven and a half periods without a goal. Manchester did out-shoot their opponents 30-19 but none of those shots really had Stewart in too much bother.