No points but good signs for the play-offs continued - match report

The GMB Nottingham Panthers just failed to get anything out of the game at home to Belfast on Sunday but at times the hockey was sublime. Final score Panthers 3 Belfast 4.

With Miika Wiikman back in nets there was a blistering start for Nottingham but blocked shots and big saves by Murphy just kept the home side at bay. An opening goal for Nottingham seemed inevitable and it came in sweet style with a face-off won back to the blueline, the puck was snapped out to the left wing then back inside for David Clarke to rifle home at 6.44.

Against the run of play Giants broke out and scored upstairs on a backhand shot in the fifteenth minute and the visitors grew into the game on the back of it. The sides were tied at 1-1 at the end of the first period.

When Nottingham failed to get the puck out of their zone at the start of the second period Giants pounced to take the lead at 21.22 but that just signaled the turn of the Panthers to grow back into the game. On one wave of attack by the home side young Latvian Deivids Sarkanis was leveled and Brian McGrattan hunted down the opposition to drop the gloves with Vandemeer.

The hit on Sarkanis had sparked the resulting get-together but the same referee from 24 hours earlier in Sheffield gave McGrattan the extra call and on the powerplay Giants stretched their lead at 32.22.

There was more good hockey to come from Nottingham and Alex Nikiforuk smuggled the puck out of the left corner to the front of the net where Matt Carter smuggled it across the line and the scoreboard read 2-3 at 35.53.

At the resulting face-off Robert Farmer tangled with Rutherford from Belfast with the former picking up a match penalty for checking to the head. Rutherford was back on the ice after treatment while his team mates had quickly converted the powerplay advantage. The rest of the penalty kill was successfully negotiated by Panthers and after failing on their first powerplay of the night in the third period their second found the back of the net with Steve Lee’s blast from the blueline going in off Chris Lawrence for a 3-4 scoreline with 48.20 gone in the game.

Another Panthers’ powerplay saw the shots ripping in and there was an amazing scramble as they got their man back but no equalizing goal. Panthers were building more and more pressure and the gloves came off again when Quesnele whacked Steve Lee who made it two wins in two bouts for the Panthers at 56.14.

Panthers pulled their keeper in the last two minutes and shaved the pipework at least once but couldn’t force the puck home.

Pics: Adam Gouldson

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