Being a resident of North America, I have never had the chance to fully enthrall myself with the hockey of the EIHL. I knew it existed, players from my hometown have excelled there (I.E. Jeff Legue), and it’s one of the better leagues on the planet. Thanks to the power of modern technology, I have been able to catch a few of the Coventry Blaze home games. While most of what I watched is talented and entertaining hockey, a very frightening percentage of it was just god awful.
Now, I might go out on a limb here and say that this season is probably not a usual one for the Blaze. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but I would like to think the Blaze ice a pretty competitive team. I also like to think a series of unfortunate events have led to their immediate downfall.
A 5 game losing streak at the beginning of the season may have attributed to goaltender Mike Zacharias and his ensuing Twitter scandal. May have been a lot on his mind. That being said, he has seemed to return to form but a lack of strong defence is what is keeping pucks in the net.
This is hockey and unfortunately injuries do happen. Sometimes they happen at the worst possible time as well which seems to be an unadulterated plague to the Blaze. Benn Olson missed 17 games with a broken finger. (Which has since forced him to drop the 2014 campaign). Gerome Giudice missed 8 games from what I can only assume was a concussion. However just when they seemed to be down and out, they emerge with the signing of fan favourites Mike Egener and Shea Guthrie. Finally, a ray of hope seemed to beckon down on the faceoff circle at the SkyDome.
Unfortunately that spot of sunshine didn’t last too long. Guthrie broke his own finger and at the time of writing is still a couple weeks away from return. Kevin Harvey also decided to give his notice and head back to his native Canada. A very untimely decision but sometimes the cards don’t fall the way you want them too. Upon taking all of this information in, you can just imagine the moral of the team and how that would affect statistics. Shockingly, goals for and goals against are neck and neck. On the other hand, it’s no surprise that the Blaze are the most penalized team in the league. Frustration mounts over time.
That being said, from here on in the Coventry Blaze need to start playing defensive hockey. Not that they haven’t been before but it’s time the defence core turned it up a notch and delivered. Yes, there’s a gap to fill with Olson gone but it’s possible with the caliber of defencemen on this team.
I’d like to say that the forwards need to step it up but they have. Ryan Ginand is the leading the league with 71 points. In fact, the Blaze have 3 scorers in the top 15. The only other team that matches that is the league leading Belfast Giants.
There’s plenty of time left to mount somewhat of a comeback and recapture the season. There’s not one person to blame for the plunging in the standings, so don’t even start to point fingers at Matt Soderstrom as he was dealt a lame hand. It’s a combination of things. Thus the Coventry Blaze and the Series of Unfortunate Events will enter a rink near you.