Great game, huge drama, but another narrow defeat

The GMB Nottingham Panthers and the Sheffield Steelers served up an old-fashioned clash of intensive rivalry with a sell-out crowd witnessing a bit of everything not least nine goals (4-5), the unluckiest of deflections for a goal against, a goal given that would have tied the game - which was washed out after the officials consulted each other centre ice - plus a big scrap and a host of big hits and great plays by both sides.

With Miika Wiikman unavailable because of a family bereavement Henry Pacl started in nets for Panthers.

Sheffield scored first on a powerplay rebound but Nottingham hit a peach of a powerplay equaliser when Brad Moran from Stephen Schultz and Steve Lee levelled at 9.44.

That signalled the annual teddy bear toss and the fans did us proud with their donations which rained on to the ice for needy children.

Two minutes later Matt Carter stole in from the blueline with the puck and stick-handled round the visiting keeper to put Panthers in front.

Next shift a fast break-out move by Steelers saw them feed the back door to equalise and luck went against Panthers when a shot from point on a powerplay hit a defenceman and ricocheted into the net.

Brian McGrattan had been trying to get things going for Nottingham when they fell behind earlier in the period and a big hit from him in the 16th minute saw Desbiens step up to the plate for five minutes each for fighting. Sheffield led at the first break.

Panthers flew out of the blocks at the start of the second period and when they had a powerplay the keeper made half a save but the puck was loose besides his pad and Chris Lawrence dug it out and in for yet another equaliser.

Just after the keeper denied Panthers on a short-handed break-in at one end Steelers tee’d the puck up for a go-ahead powerplay goal which was hit hard and low and rattled into the net.

On a third period powerplay Panthers were awarded a goal after a shot on net bounced around and was turned in for what would have been a 4-4 scoreline but after consulting his linesmen the referee changed his call and instead gave Nottingham’s Dan Spang two minutes for illegal equipment for not having his chin strap fastened.

Panthers killed the penalty but then failed on a shortened five on three powerplay and with the sides skating at full-strength a wicked bounce off the boards sent Steelers in one-on-one. The shot hit keeper Pacl on the shoulder but looped up and over and in as he tried to catch it behind his own back.

Panthers were still busting a gut to get back into the game though and we were back to a one goal spread when a Kristian Kudroc shot rebounded off the backboards and Matt Carter pulled it back and out the other side of the goal to score his second of the game (53.50).

Pacl was pulled for an extra skater with 84 seconds left in regulation, Panthers had three or four shots, Steelers iced the puck, there was a Panthers’ time-out with 20 seconds left but there was not to be yet another equaliser in a thoroughly absorbing match.

Pics: Karl Denham

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Shots on Goal
Shots on Goal
Goals by Period
Goals by Period