GMB Panthers bounce back with big win over Coventry

The GMB Nottingham Panthers bounced back from their Saturday loss at Cardiff with a big win over Coventry Blaze on Sunday when they took hold of the game early doors and eventually coasted to an 8-3 victory.

Miika Wiikman pulled off a double-stonewall save to deny Blaze at the one minute mark while a backhand shot from Dan Spang saw a rebound land for Brian McGrattan to open the scoring at 2.25.

Next shift Alex Nikiforuk drove the left wing and although his shot was initially saved Jeff Dimmen followed through to convert a second goal just 24 seconds later.

After a great penalty kill with the crowd playing a great supporting role Panthers stretched their lead even further. Jeff Brown had lost his stick during an attack and as he skated to the team bench for a new twig Panthers regrouped and then sent the puck forward. Brown dived to tip inside for Matt Carter to carry the puck forward and he fed Robert Farmer at the far side to hammer home a third at 8.22 which signalled Blaze’s time out.

The visitors tipped home on a powerplay just before the half-way mark of the first period but the session ended with Nottingham restoring the three goal cushion. Nikiforuk carried forward on the left, he faked inside and instead dished the puck to captain Brad Moran, also on the left, and he took the puck on to fire home low at 18.52.

It was only a question of time in the second period before Nottingham would score again and when the visiting keeper fumbled in the 33rd minute Big Ern was on hand to lift home the rebound on the backhand for his second of the match.

The sixth was the best goal of the night as Panthers swept up the ice, Stephen Schultz passed to Nikiforuk who sweetly found Brown and he rattled home at the back post.

That goal at 35.06 saw off visiting goalie Brian Stewart who was replaced.

A blatant trip as Panthers pressed for a seventh goal during four-on-four action saw a penalty shot awarded and Dimmen bagged his second goal of the night when he converted.

With the game already tucked up in bed Panthers switched goalies in the third and rested Schultz, who had recently returned from injury. Farmer hit his second on a powerplay and although Blaze converted themselves with a man advantage and then added a late consolation on a soft rebound in the last minute this one had long been over as a contest.

Pics: Karl Denham

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