Coventry Blaze

Coventry Blaze

History
Coventry Blaze
League Elite Ice Hockey League
Founded 2000
ENIHL Affiliate Coventry Blaze (ENL)
Solihull Blaze
1996-2000
Coventry Blaze
2000-Present
Arena SkyDome Arena
Capacity 3,000
City Coventry United Kingdom
Team Colours Blue and White
Head coach Paul Thompson
Owners Coventry Blaze Ltd
Team Captain Adam Calder
League Championships 2004–05, 2006-07, 2007-08
Championships 2004-05
Challenge Cups 2004–05, 2006-07
Knockout Cups 2007–08

Coventry Blaze are a British ice hockey team based in Coventry, England. They are the current Elite Ice Hockey League Champions, having won the title for the third time in four years on March 9, 2008.

Originally from the neighbouring town of Solihull, the Blaze rose quickly through the various leagues of British Ice Hockey. In 2000–01, in order to attract a new and larger fanbase, the Blaze made the decision to move to the 3,000 capacity Coventry Skydome.

They went on to become one of the more successful British National League (BNL) teams. In 2002–03, they won the league and playoff double, completing the playoffs unbeaten.

Elite League history

2003-2004

In the summer of 2003, Coventry joined with two other BNL sides, three former Superleague sides and two new sides in a brand new Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL).

The core of the BNL roster was retained, and joined by such players as, eventual player of the year, Steve O'Brien, Steve Gallace and Graham Schlender. Blaze eventually finished third in the League behind Sheffield Steelers and Nottingham Panthers. They failed to qualify for the end of season playoffs after performing badly.

2004–2005

In the summer of 2004, Paul Thompson undertook a re-building of the roster in a bid to improve upon the previous season. Steve Carpenter, Michael Tasker, Shaun Johnson, Hilton Ruggles and Mathias Soderstrom were dropped, and Steve Chartrand, announced his retirement. Gallace and O' Brien also departed. Dan Carlson, Adam Calder, Doug Schueller, Pavol Mihalik, Neal Martin and Andre Payette joined the club, as well as Wade Belak of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Blaze claimed their first Elite League title on March 5 2005 following a 5-1 victory over the London Racers. They also won the 2005 Challenge Cup following an 11-5 aggregate victory over Cardiff Devils. On April 10 2005 the Blaze completed a Grand Slam of all three EIHL trophies with a 2-1 overtime victory over the Nottingham Panthers in the playoff final.

Netminder Jody Lehman was voted to the EIHL All Star Team at the end of the season along with Dan Carlson, Adam Calder, Wade Belak and the overall League MVP, Neal Martin. In addition, Doug Schueller was voted to the British Ice Hockey Writers Association All Star Team and Tait made the British All Star Team.

2005–2006

Wade Belak returned to the NHL and Calder and Carlson left for Sweden and Germany respectively. Coupled with the retirement of both Schlender and McNamara, the Blaze embarked upon the defence of their three titles with a radically changed roster.

Evan Cheverie was acquired from Long Beach Ice Dogs of the ECHL and joined by Barrie Moore, formerly of the Buffalo Sabres. Jeff Hutchins joined from Mississippi Sea Wolves.

In October 2005 the club competed in the Continental Cup in Grenoble, eventually losing in their final game against the host team. Blaze began by defeating Herning Blue Fox of Denmark in a shootout and followed up with a win over the Amsterdam Tigers.

Upon their return, Dan Welch was transferred from the Nottingham Panthers, and Calder returned from Sweden, but Blaze lost both the Challenge Cup Final, to the Cardiff Devils, and the final of the British Ice Hockey Cup, to Sheffield Steelers, on penalty shots. They also lost the League title to the Belfast Giants.

2006–2007

Thompson started off the season by acquiring Canadian defenceman Reid Simonton from Herning Blue Fox, and re-signing Dan Carlson from EHC Munich to re-unite with Adam Calder. Hutchins departed for Belfast Giants and Cheverie and Welch joined Morzine Avoriaz Penguins in France.

Replacements arrived in the form of Danny Stewart from UHL side Danbury Trashers, and AHL veteran Sylvain Cloutier. Another former NHL player, Rumun Ndur joined Samy Nasreddine and the returning James Pease and Neal Martin in the defence.

The side qualified for the final of the Challenge Cup for the 3rd successive season, conceding far fewer goals than all of their Elite League counterparts.

March 14 2007 brought a setback, as the side lost in the final of the British Knockout Cup to Cardiff Devils.

On March 27, 2007, Blaze reclaimed the Challenge Cup, defeating the Sheffield Steelers 9-4 on aggregate over two games.

Paul Thompson's team then went on to the quarter finals of the Elite League playoffs. They played 8th place Newcastle Vipers and trailed 1-0 after the 1st leg in Newcastle.

2007–2008

Many of the previous squad re-signed, including netminder Trevor Koenig, Barrie Moore, Adam Calder, Rumun Ndur, Michael Tasker, Stephen Fone, Tom Pease and James Archer.

In addition to these, GB captain Jonathan Weaver signed from the Newcastle Vipers, Russ Cowley rejoined the club after a year spent with the Cardiff Devils and forward Curtis Huppe was signed, having been released by the Belfast Giants before the end of the 2006-07 season. The final import slot was taken by fan favourite Mathias Söderström, after a three year absence from the side.

In light of Tait's departure, AHL veteran, Sylvain Cloutier was appointed captain of the side.

On March 9 2008, Blaze clinched their 3rd Elite Ice Hockey League Championship in 4 seasons, after beating Belfast Giants 4-2 at the Skydome. Curtis Huppe scored the Championship winning goal against his former side.

On March 18 2008, Blaze won the British Knockout Cup, having lost the previous two finals to Sheffield Steelers and Cardiff Devils. Blaze recovered from a two goal deficit against Basingstoke Bison in the final period of the 2nd Leg to clinch the tie 8–6 on aggregate. Dan Carlson led the scoring netting two goals in a five point game. Blaze finished the season as runners up in the play off competition. Having disposed of Edinburgh Capitals in the Quarter Finals and Newcastle Vipers in the Semi's, Blaze lost 2-0 in the final to the Sheffield Steelers.

2008–2009

On Monday 28 April 2008, Blaze made young British defenceman, Ben O' Connor their first new signing of the off season. O'Connor had played for both Basingstoke Bison and Edinburgh Capitals in the previous season. Leigh Jamieson was recruited from the Belfast Giants at the beginning of May, having spent 5 years in Northern Ireland.

On Thursday 15 May 2008, Blaze announced the signing of former Phoenix Coyotes 1st round draft pick, Scott Kelman. Shortly afterwards, Blaze confirmed that fans favourite Dan Carlson had penned a new 2 year deal. Following the departure of Neal Martin and Curtis Huppe, this was a key retention for the club, with Carlson having registered a League leading 81 assists in 2007/08.

Blaze added J.F. Perras to their roster following the departure of Trevor Koenig and also acquired the services of Carlyle Lewis from Belfast Giants. Greg Wood was captured from Basingstoke Bison, and the club confirmed the retention of Barrie Moore, Mathias Soderstrom and Tom Watkins as the team building continued.

On July 22nd, Blaze were dealt a blow when influential skipper Sylvain Cloutier announced that he was retiring to become the head coach of Corpus Christi Rayz in the CHL.

On August 5th, Blaze replaced Cloutier with another Sylvain.... Sylvain Deschatelets formerly of the Cardiff Devils, Paul Thompson feels he is a similar player to the departing captain, a fantastic replacement for Cloutier.

Club roster 08/09

Goaltenders
Number

Player Catches Acquired Place of Birth
29 Jean-Francois Perras L 2008 Embrun, Ontario, Canada
31 Stephen Fone L 2006 Rotherham, England

Defencemen
Number

Player Shoots Acquired Place of Birth
6 Leigh Jamieson R 2008 Milton Keynes, England
14 Jonathan Weaver - A L 2007 Sunderland, England
20 Tommy Watkins R 2000 Durham, England
28 Corey LeClair R 2008 Riverview, MI, U.S.A
61 Ben O'Connor L 2008 Durham, England
77 Mathias Söderström L 2007 Hallstavik, Sweden

Forwards
Number

Player Shoots Position Acquired Place of Birth
7 Joe Henry R RW 2005 Solihull, England
8 Greg Wood R RW 2008 Sheffield, England
9 Scott Kelman L C 2008 Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
17 Russ Cowley L LW 2007 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
18 Barrie Moore - A L LW 2005 London, Ontario, Canada
21 Sylvain Deschatelets L C 2008 Blainville, Quebec, Canada
24 Carlyle Lewis R RW 2008 Middleton, Nova Scotia, Canada
25 Adam Calder - C R RW 2005 Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, Canada
26 Dan Carlson L C 2006 Edina, MN, U.S.A.
39 Danny Stewart - A L LW 2006 Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada

Honours

Honoured players

  • - Jersey retired for services to the club.
  • - Jersey retired for services to British Ice Hockey.

References

External links

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