ICE HOCKEY: Blaze Fear Dousing as They Aim to Down Bison

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Byline: Antony Hopker

Coventry Blaze will discover tonight if they have hit a purple patch or whether last weekend's goal glut was a one-off.

After putting five and 11 past London and Manchester respectively, without conceding anything in reply, Blaze could be ready to seriously challenge the top sides.

The extent of the progress that has been made will become obvious in Basingstoke, whose goalie Curtis Cruickshank is top of the pile.

Bison have climbed to fifth in the table largely thanks to their netminder, and they have become increasingly difficult to break down.

Cruickshank surpassed himself on Tuesday when weathering 58 shots, yielding just two goals from a Sheffield onslaught.

'We've only scored two against Basingstoke in regulation time and we will need to work on that,' said coach Paul Thompson. 'But getting past Cruickshank isn't going to be easy.'

Bison seem largely content to expose their goalie to a volley of shots, but they are not a one-man team, and new faces such as defenceman Doug Schuller are being added to provide some muscle.

The Basingstoke forwards can also be a threat, as Blaze know only too well. They are quick to counter-attack and scored five when beating Coventry at the Skydome two weeks ago. …