GMB Panthers put on super show to beat top of the table Devils

The GMB Nottingham Panthers, back-stopped brilliantly by Miika Wiikman, put in a stunning sixty minute shift to beat Cardiff for the second time in as many weekends with a 5-2 home victory on Sunday night.

With a slick move getting Robert Farmer on net the keeper got a piece of it but it looped up and over and in after 107 seconds and Panthers had their noses in front.

Another great move by Nottingham saw a high tempo break down the ice from East Coast to West and back across the face of goal where Stephen Schultz dug the puck out of his skates to fire home on the backhand at 6.03.

Both sides carved out great chances for the rest of the first period but there was no further scoring.

A coming together of the players saw Jeff Brown hand out a spanking to former Panther Matthew Myers and although Devils got their man back after the resulting powerplay expired Nottingham had the momentum and Stephen Schultz had a shot from the right blocked by the defenceman only for the puck to return to the Panthers’ winger who second time around fed Ollie Betteridge at the far post and he hammered in a third goal at 25.07.

Tired legs for Panthers, who’d travelled back from Belfast for the game, took their toll and led to calls against the home team resulting in Devils getting a 69 second five-on-three powerplay but it was the Panthers, roared on by the crowd, who came through a potentially pivotal moment on top with a great penalty kill in the bag.

Devils did get on the board with a fluke goal (their second in as many nights) when a clearance ricocheted in after 34 minutes but Panthers were still two goals to the good at the second interval.

Cardiff’s fourth powerplay finally saw them crack the code for a 3-2 scoreline half-way through the final period but when they pulled their netminder early for an extra skater Panthers broke out of the defensive zone and Robert Lachowicz hit the empty net for his 99th goal in all Elite League competitions.

Bowns went back on to the ice for Cardiff and Panthers wrapped up the scoring in a Christmas cracker of a match when they broke two-on-one and Logan MacMillan rounded the keeper to add a fifth marker at 59.33.

Pics: Karl Denham.

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