Dramatic finish sees GMB Panthers snag a point on New Year’s Eve

In an action packed finale in front of a sold-out bowl at the National Ice Centre the GMB Nottingham Panthers snatched a point with the six skater ploy with four seconds left in regulation time after a short-handed goal looked to have sealed a win for the visiting Coventry Blaze who went on to snag the extra point in overtime.

Miika Wiikman was still absent through illness along with David Clarke and Geoff Waugh but Jeff Dimmen made his return. Henry Pacl started in goal but was injured before the half-way stage.

Stephen Schultz’ smart finish put Nottingham in front in the fourth minute but a powerplay shot through traffic leveled the game in the eleventh minute and that was the score at the first break.

Just before the half-way stage and during penalty kill duty netminder Henry Pacl was hit in the mask and suffered a cut above his eye. He continued and Panthers got their man back but moments later he was beaten and was forced to leave the action. Dan Green took over in goal for the Panthers.

Pure determination saw Alex Nikiforuk battle through the middle channel and dish the puck off to Schultz who fed the front for Panthers’ Number Nine to equalize at 34.06 to spark a goal flurry.

A stretch pass sent Coventry in one-on-one to take the lead again just over a minute later but 21 seconds after that Robert Lachowicz fed Jason Williams in front and he found the net. At 38.26 on a powerplay a Williams shot was padded out but only as far as Matt Carter who swept Panthers into the lead and it was 4-3 at the second interval.

Coventry tied the game at 4-4 with a shot on the short side from the left wing at 44.17 and in a tense game Panthers went to the powerplay late in regular. They piled on the pressure only for Blaze to break out short-handed two-on-one and convert short-handed with just 34 seconds left.

Panthers took their time out and pulled their goalie for an extra skater and Chris Lawrence bundled in an equalizer with just four second on the clock.

In overtime Panthers had a great chance to steal both points but the puck wouldn’t settle and when Coventry got down the ice they fired home from twenty feet at 61.31 for a 5-6 sudden-death victory.

Pics: Karl Denham

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