Stewart: Blaze need to learn to close out games

Coventry Blaze boss Danny Stewart says his team need to learn how to close out games after seeing them blow a 4-2 lead to lose 6-4 at Cardiff Devils on Tuesday.

The result added to Stewart’s Christmas misery, with Cardiff also recording a 5-3 success at Coventry on Boxing Day to leave the Sky Dome outfit eighth in the Elite League table.

“For two periods we were the better team – the first period could have possibly been our best of the season,” Stewart said after the game at Ice Arena Wales.

“I think we were scared to win. A bad first shift in the third set the tone and we sat back on our heels too often.

“We got away from what made us successful in the first two periods and it’s frustrating. Maybe we haven’t won enough to learn how to close out games, but we have to find a way to start getting points.

“It was a way better performance, but we just found a way to lose a game.”

Monday’s game had seen Blaze trail 4-1 at the end of the second period, before closing the gap to a single goal midway through the final session.

Layne Ulmer’s goal six minutes from time ended their comeback hopes to leave Stewart extremely frustrated.

“We made too many mistakes against a good hockey team,” he added.

“Momentum shifters happen all over the ice. We get one back, tie the game with a couple of minutes left in the first period and they get one right back – just sloppy hockey in our zone.

“We had a great penalty-kill in the second period and we go out the next shift, throw one through the middle and it’s in the back of our net – 3-1. Then you’re chasing the game.

“At times we just refuse to play simple and direct hockey. We did in the third and we played better hockey but you can’t play one period against a good team.

“Teams aren’t coming in here and out-shooting 45-50 shots – the mistakes are just killing us and I can’t stress that enough.”

(Image permission: Scott Wiggins)

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