Storm vs. Blaze preview (31/08/16)
Genting Casino Coventry Blaze travel to Manchester today for their fourth game of an extensive pre-season which has seen them beat Nottingham Panthers and Tilburg Trappers on home ice, and also feel defeat to the Cardiff Devils with just 11 seconds remaining on the clock.
With a 7pm face-off tonight, it will be the Storm's opening game of the season at a venue where the Blaze have struggled since Manchester's re-formation last summer.
Coventry lost all three games at the Altrincham Ice Dome in the previous campaign, securing just one win from six attempts overall against Omar Pacha's men, on the final day of the Elite League regular season at the Skydome Arena.
The slate though has been wiped clean for the new season, both club's have seen significant change and new Blaze Head Coach Danny Stewart is sure to want to set down an early marker and end Storm's impressive run of victories against Coventry on their home ice.
One player who will stand -out straight away on the new Storm roster will be #29 Eric Neilson. With the long hair and big beard, the 6'2" Canadian with over 2000 career penalty minutes is set to be a popular figure amongst the Manchester faithful and won't be afraid to drop the gloves with anyone in the Elite League.
Another new recruit to look out for is #71 Mark Heatley, a 6'3" forward who has posted impressive career numbers in Germany's second division.
One of the star offensive defencemen from last season's Elite League campaign has returned in Paul Phillips, whilst former Italian International Trevor Johnson could also be an important player for the Altrincham outfit on the blue-line.
With only Jack Prince, Adam Harding and Paul Swindelhurst as recognised British players, the Storm don't share the same depth as Blaze but as per last season, Pacha looks set to have three strong skating, dangerous lines to call upon.
In net, the man Coventry's sharp-shooters will be looking to beat will be 26 year-old American, Mike Clemente, who replaces Zane Kalemba. A relatively big goalie at 6'2", he brings with him experience in the AHL, ECHL, NCAA and last season of the Danish Metal Ligaen with Rungsted.
The officials for this evening's game will be Liam Sewell #4, Paul Staniforth #22 and Chris Wells #45.
Unfortuantely, there will be no webcast from the Altrincham Ice Dome but keep an eye on @covblazelive for updates.
Read the Manchester Storm preview ahead of the game, here.