Manchester Storm 0 – 5 Coventry Blaze
Saturday night saw the visiting Coventry Blaze inflicting a heavy home defeat on the Manchester Storm, as the Blaze put in a dominant performance from start to finish and saw the Blaze shutting out the Storm to register a stunning 5-0 win at the Altrincham Ice rink.
The 5-0 scoreline was only half the story though, as even though Coventry ran out very much the deserved winners of the contest, it saw the hosts producing the worst performance by a Manchester hockey side in a long time. To say this was a bad day at the office for Ryan Finnerty’s men would be an understatement.
There was a delay to face off, after the plexiglass behind the Blaze goal was shattered in the warm-up and saw a 15-minute delay. Once the game got underway, it saw only one side in the contest at all. Coventry came out immediately on the front foot and put instant pressure on Mike Clemente in the Storm goal, while they were also doing a great job of pinning the home side in their own zone too.
Mark-Oliver Vallerand then netted the opener for the Blaze at 3.45, as his shot from an extremely tight angle somehow managed to find its way over the shoulder of Clemente and into the far top corner and caught everyone by surprise.
An issue that has been on-going at the Altrincham rink for some time now, has been the pegs used in games and the ineffectiveness of their job. There was another delay as the officials worked with the rink staff to try and sort the problem out with the pegs, as the nets coming off was becoming a problem.
Manchester seemed to be more intent with using their skates than their sticks to control a pass, and also saw a complete lack of cohesion in defence and their attack too. Mike Clemente was nearly caught out behind his own net when he tried to play a puck and saw a lack of communication with his defence almost leading to a second goal for the visiting Blaze.
Early on in the second period, it saw a complete communication breakdown again between netminder and defenceman, as Clemente and Matt Stanisz seemed to leave the puck for the other person and that allowed Luke Ferrera to swoop in and put a pass out in front for Ross Venus and he scored for a 2-0 score at 22.05.
Luke Ferrara then made it a 3-0 game at 33.23, when David Clements angled shot on the blue line fell nicely to Ferrara whose first effort hit the side netting, but the British forward was still able to scramble the loose puck home and virtually put the game to bed.
As play went on, it seemed like the Storm was rudderless and lacked no leadership or spark amongst anyone on the ice whatsoever. It felt also like the side had never played together with so many poor misplaced passes and a lack of cutting edge to their play at all.
Manchester looked devoid of any ideas in both defence or attack, and could hardly muster stringing two passes together in the whole game too. Ciaran Long had the best chance for the home side when he found himself one on one with the netminder, but he failed to hit the target and saw his shot coming off the glass behind the goals.
Coventry then stretched their lead at 34.58 through a second goal of the game for Vallerand, as the visitors turned the screw on their opponents and saw Manchester having another preventable goal going in.
The goal came from a puck up ice that saw a Storm man more interested in trying to make a hit then clear the puck, which was more in the Blaze favour, as that freed up Vallerand to simply skate by and pick up the loose puck before firing through the legs of Clemente with the defence backing off, with Coventry 4-0 to the good.
The third seemed to be a relatively quiet period for the most part, as the game was over as a contest, but saw Linden Springer taking exception to Ross Venus slash on Matt Beca and saw the Storm man charging at Venus and sending him flying to the ice, which resulted in a match penalty for his involvement and gave Coventry a shortened five-minute power play.
It saw the visitors making the most of it and have captain Jordan Pietrus ripping one home to put the exclamation point on the victory, and condemn the Storm to defeat without a whimper on what was an extremely disappointing night for the hosts.