COVENTRY Blaze ended the year with back-to-back wins against Nottingham Panthers following a late comeback victory at the Skydome Arena.
Blaze scored two late goals to take their last home game of the year to overtime before Alessio Luciani eventually sealed a 4-3 victory following a shootout.
And Blaze then triumphed 4-2 at Motorpoint Arena the following night to ensure Danny Stewart’s side finished 2023 on a positive note.
The results mean Coventry sit fifth in the Elite League standings.
At the Skydome, the first period finished goalless before Kobe Roth tipped David Clements’ shot from the point into the net at 21.47 to break the deadlock.
The Panthers responded on the powerplay through Otto Nieminen at 26.18 before Mathieu Lemay completed the turnaround with another powerplay goal at 37.42.
And Nottingham stretched their lead at 49.07 when Lemay scored his second goal of the night with a fine solo effort.
However, Blaze captain Brady Norrish reduced the deficit on the powerplay at 51.26 before Danny Kristol superbly levelled the game at 55.24 to take the match to overtime.
Panthers spurned a powerplay chance to win the game with 48 seconds left to play as Blaze netminder Taran Kozun stood firm to ensure the match went to a penalty shootout.
Both Alexander Lunsjo and Ian McNulty scored their respective penalties before Luciani edged Blaze into the lead and Kozun saved Nottingham’s remaining efforts to seal the points.
In Nottingham, the Panthers took the lead with an early powerplay goal at 5.40 as Lunsjo turned home Westin Michaud’s shot past Kozun.
However, Blaze responded almost immediately at 7.29 when Blake Thompson’s shot found the net thanks to a good screen by Aidan Spellacy.
And Blaze turned the game on its head at 10.24 as Kim Tallberg made the most of a two-on-one opportunity.
The second period finished goalless although Panthers defenceman Myles McGurty was ejected from the game for a kneeing penalty offence on Spellacy who was unable to return to the ice.
Blaze took the game out of Nottingham’s reach at 47.09 when Jack Hopkins scored against his former club in his hometown.
And McNulty made sure of the points with Blaze’s fourth goal at 53.08 before Lemay scored a consolation for Nottingham at 58.20 after the home side pulled their goalie for an extra skater.
Blaze begin 2024 with a trip to Dundee Stars on Saturday, January 6 with the face-off at 7pm at Dundee Ice Arena.
And Coventry then host Manchester Storm on Sunday, January 7 with the face-off at 5.30pm at the Skydome.