Godfrey living up to summer promise
Following a “frustrating” debut season in the Elite League, Genting Casino Coventry Blaze defenceman Josh Godfrey vowed to re-pay the faith shown in him, overcoming injuries during the summer, changing his training routine and even swapping number.
The Canadian who now wears 15 has lived up to his promise to start the 2016/17 Elite League campaign, leading the club for points with 4 goals, 2 assists, 6 points in 6 games.
A key part of Danny Stewart’s powerplay which currently leads the Elite League at 26.9%, Godfrey was recently described by the Head Coach as his “best player so far.”
Despite his personal success, Blaze haven’t started the season quite as they’d hoped winning one game from four in the Challenge Cup and taking one from the available four points so far in the Elite League.
“It's always fun to contribute offensively, but as competitors we want to win games,” said the 28 year-old. “My words in the summer weren’t just a promise to the fans, it was a promise to the club and my teammates as well. There will probably always be some doubters and non-believers out there. That's okay, nobody holds me to a higher standard than myself. To those who believe in me, stand behind me, and support the guys and push us through the tough times, thank you."
Speaking in June, the former Kelly Cup Champion and Canada U20’s gold medalist said, “I was incredibly disappointed with my season (15/16) overall, playing through some things and missing time with or playing with injuries. It's something hockey players are expected to do but I definitely felt frustrated about just not feeling like myself and not playing how I know I can play."
Rejuvenated under the guidance of Danny Stewart who replaced the departing Chuck Weber, Godfrey says “he’s feeling great” to start the new season, his second in Coventry.
“My ankle is healed, both my hands are completely healed, I changed what I was eating, and wasn't lifting heavy weights. I put in a lot of work! I'm healthy and excited to help us win games. Working with Danny is good, he plays a more aggressive system. It's hard work but it's more fun. He gives us the freedom to use our skill in the right areas, right now as a team we just have to do a better job of recognising those situations. We've been able to create a lot more shots and chances this season.”
On the back of two weekend’s without a win, Godfrey and his teammates travel to Fife on Saturday, a club who are also suffering a run of defeats, four since beating the Nottingham Panthers 4-1 on home ice.
“It’s definitely been a tough couple weeks for us,” said the holder of the ECHL’s hardest ever shot (102.7 miles per-hour). We haven't been playing all that poorly but we need to continue to improve. Push each other during training. I was talking to Piety (Jordan Pietrus) about this, we agreed we need each guy asking themselves, 'What can I do better?' Each guy has his own strengths but what more can each guy bring. It's not about pointing fingers. We have a good group, no egos or bad attitudes. Urgency, poise, focus, execution. We need more, starting on Saturday.”
With the upcoming game being Danny Stewart’s first game back in the rink where he spent five seasons in the position of player/assistant and then associate coach, Godfrey predicts a tough battle as both club’s seek to snap their losing streak.
“We expect them to come out hard like they always do up there. It’s a hostile barn and will be a great test for us. No matter who we play we need to compete, make good decisions and make them work defensively. It's important we sustain offensive pressure, especially against other team’s skilled players and tire them out in their own zone.”
After the trip up North, Blaze will welcome a number of familiar faces back to the Skydome as former Head Coach Marc LeFebvre brings his Dundee Stars to town. Amongst those in the line-up will be playoff champion with Coventry, Craig Cescon and the popular Cale Tanaka who played near 200 games for Blaze, last season as a teammate of Josh Godrey.
“As a defensemen he's a tough guy to handle,” commented the former Washington Capitals draft-pick. “Cale changes speeds so well, he rolls off contact. It was challenging in practice all year last season. I played with his brother (Cory) a long time ago, Cale and I became good friends last year and still keep in touch. There were a lot of shared rap bars. But, I think we understand, once we all step on to the ice there's two points up for grabs. We can all be friends after the game.”
See Josh Godfrey and the Blaze take on Cale Tanaka and the Dundee Stars on Sunday at the Skydome Arena (5.15pm)