Elite League preview: Blaze & Clan bid to kick-start seasons

Coventry Blaze face a difficult weekend as they look to end a run of three successive defeats.

Blaze travel to face Cardiff Devils in the Elite Challenge Cup on Saturday, before a league fixture against Nottingham Panthers the following day.

With Canadian forward Matt Marquardt back in the line-up after missing last weekend for personal reasons, Head Coach Danny Stewart will switch things around as he searches for a winning formula.

“I think you’ll see a different look this weekend – we have made a few adjustments,” said Stewart.

“We were scoring freely in pre-season, but obviously it’s different when you get into the competitive games – these are good hockey teams that we’re playing with good goaltending.

“Sometimes if it gets a little bit stale or whatever, we rejig here and there and maybe putting a guy in a different might add some chemistry to a line.”

Braehead Clan Hockey and Operations Director Gareth Chalmers has told the club’s players to start performing or changes will be made.

Head Coach Ryan Finnerty has come under fire after Clan’s run of six defeats in a row, but Chalmers believes it’s time for the players to step up to the mark – starting with Saturday’s league game at Manchester Storm.

“If things don’t improve very quickly there will be changes,” Chalmers told the Glasgow Evening Times.

“It doesn’t matter who it is or how long they’ve been here, it’s simply not good enough and there will be changes quickly if that doesn’t improve.

“Some guys we are not very happy with, and we expected a little bit better.

“It’s a team game here and they are not working as that. If there are individuals in our team and we have our concerns, they won’t last two minutes here – they’ll be gone.

“We have spoken to Ryan and it’s his decision, but we fully support him – I think he is the right head coach for us and he has our full support.

“He’s done a very good job here in the last three years. He expected to be better this year, we felt we recruited well.

“We’ve had discussions and if he wants to make changes he can – it’s his team. If he feels that letting another player go and bringing someone in then that’s his call.

“That’s the way it should be because he’s the head coach and ultimately if it fails he will lose his job – he is aware of that.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Saturday

Belfast Giants v Dundee Stars (Cup)
Cardiff Devils v Coventry Blaze (Cup)
Manchester Storm v Braehead Clan
Fife Flyers v Edinburgh Capitals (Cup)
Nottingham Panthers v Sheffield Steelers (Cup)

Sunday

Braehead Clan v Belfast Giants (Cup)
Coventry Blaze v Nottingham Panthers
Dundee Stars v Fife Flyers (Cup)
Edinburgh Capitals v Manchester Storm
Sheffield Steelers v Cardiff Devils (Cup)

(Image permission: Scott Wiggins)

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