Lawrence hits four as GMB Panthers beat Manchester 8-5

In old fashioned shoot-out of a hockey game that had a bit of everything the GMB Nottingham Panthers came out on top with an 8-5 victory against Manchester to earn two points in both league and cup standings.

The match had an explosive start with Panthers setting up defenceman Geoff Waugh who'd jumped into the play to rattle home the first of 13 goals on the night in the fourth minute.

Manchester tough guy Eric Neilson then called out Brian McGrattan and the pair had a great tilt centre ice, won by McGrattan who saluted the home fans after what he later called his first scrap in seven months.

As Panthers pinched in at one end Manchester broke out the other way three on one and equalised and the visitors took the lead after a poor call saw them on the powerplay and with one second of the man advantage left on the clock they tipped home.

On a powerplay of their own Panthers got the scores tied at two apiece when the puck rocked around in front of the Storm net like a pinball and Chris Lawrence stretched forward to turn in his first of the night. Storm hit penalty riddled waters late in the period and started the second two men down. Panthers capitalised with a nice feed to Alex Nikiforuk at the far post on the left side and on a five-on-four powerplay Robert Framer collected and controlled a rebound before shooting home upstairs to give Nottingham a two goal lead less than three minutes later.
Just seconds later the Storm got a tip on a shot off the left wing and although netminder Miika Wiikman thought he had the puck it dribbled through for a 4-3 scoreline.

Another penalty against the visitors gave Nottingham another powerplay opportunity and they took full advantage to score their fourth powerplay goal in a row when Chris Lawrence picked up a pass in front of goal and set himself up nicely to pop the puck home and Nottingham led 5-3 at the second break.

There was more excitement for the big crowd in the third period with Storm again reducing the arrears to one when former Panthers Paul Swindlehurst (playing on the wing) scored but the cushion was quickly back in place when Panthers forced the puck to the front and Lawrence bagged his hat-trick. Storm came right back at Panthers again and a high tip (Swindlehurst again) made it 6-5 within seconds of the re-start but Panthers saved the best 'til last when a clever chipped clearance fell alongside the advancing Robert Farmer who himself delivered a delicate chipped pass forward for Chris Lawrence who took the puck in to score upstairs on the backhand for his fourth of the night and Panthers seventh and this time the cushion stayed in place.

During late four-on-four action Jeff Dimmen drilled the puck from the corner to the front of the net and captain Brad Moran wrapped up the scoring.

Pics Karl Denham

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