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Luke Ferrara on goal-filled season for Blaze

Photo: Scott Wiggins

The 2019/20 season may have been cut short but there were some phenomenal achievements over the seven months of games in the Elite League.

None more so than British forward Luke Ferrara who was top of the goals scored standing when play was suspended due to the Coronavirus outbreak, his total of 33 goals making him the league’s leader at the point things were stopped.

“It's one of those things that you don’t focus on during the season as you’re day-to-day and trying to get two points each game, but before you know it you’re into the final part of the season and leading the league,” began Ferrara, who played his third season in a row for Coventry during this campaign. "Then the season obviously finished early, but it is a great feeling and something that I’m proud I was able to do.”

Although the season did end early, Ferrara’s achievement is not one to be overlooked - no British player had ever topped the league’s goal-scoring charts over a season since the league was formed in 2003. "To tell the truth I didn’t know this until it was announced. It wasn’t something I was aware of, but I hope that this is a good and positive message to send to younger players in the UK that these achievements are possible,” said the 26-year-old. "If you work hard and have fun there’s no reason why it can’t happen."

Coventry were due to play on the evening of Friday 13 March before the league’s closure was announced. "We had an optional pre-game skate that day, so my roommate Dillon Lawrence and I went to the rink to have a stretch and get ready for the game. Danny Stewart told us the owners were on a conference called we’d know more later,” explained Ferrara. "As we were getting ready he came in and said ‘Bad news, the league is shut down for the rest of the season’. It came as a shock because we’d done our normal things that day: woken up, had breakfast, and gone to the rink as we would have any game day - there were some guys out on the ice skating as well."

However, at that point the forward’s attention immediately turned to his teammates who were overseas and needed to get home. "We had a very close-knit group this year, obviously there are 14 imports but also their families as well so more goes on than people realise. To have the season end like that, just all of a sudden, and say goodbye to good friends was very strange, but everyone wanted to make sure they got home safely,” he said. "It was a strange week or so, but everyone was able to get back safely and I think that’s a credit to the league and all of its teams. It’s a scary situation, but everyone was able to get back to look after their families. In Coventry we had people running around like crazy getting players to airports, making sure their houses were packed up and that they had everything. I think it went as smoothly as it possibly could have done."

The premature end to the 2019/20 season cut the Blaze’s revival short. Coventry were the league’s top team over the past 20 games and one of the most in-form sides since Christmas, not losing in regulation since 4 January! "It was very good, I don’t think people realise how good of a streak we were on. Numbers-wise people thought Cardiff would win the league but we still had to play them and were in fighting distance of first. It was a tough pill to swallow when the season got cancelled because we were in-form going into playoffs, and outside chances of winning league, but the decision was made for a very good reason,” explained Ferrara. "Everything seemed to come good for us in the second half of the season: we had chemistry at the right time, CJ Motte coming in and playing the way he did helped, and I really don’t think people looked forward to playing us!"

With the off-season arriving a month early, how is the product of the Peterborough junior system spending his time? “Actually, I’m still studying!” he revealed. "David Clements and I are doing our Masters in Business so those classed and lectures have moved online. I’m trying to finish the work needed for that, and also keep exercising at home."

Finally, a plea to everyone about what is currently happening in the country from the Blaze’s #19: "If you don’t need to go out, just don’t do it. This is affecting everyone’s lives and it’s not a good situation, but the quicker we do this and get through it, then the quicker we can carry on with normal lives - and hopefully we can have a full season next year. My fear is if people don’t do this now, maybe that won’t happen. In the grand scheme of things, people might have bigger things to worry about than hockey, but of course we would love to be back playing a new season after this summer."

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