It’s been a long time in coming but finally after a year and a month of waiting, this Saturday 3rd April 2021, Elite level Ice Hockey returns to the city as Nottingham Panthers return to the rink to face their arch-nemesis Sheffield Steelers at the Motorpoint Arena, right after Coventry Blaze take on Manchester Storm in an Elite Series that puck chasing fans from up and down the country far and wide have been long waiting for.
Finally Ice Hockey is back, the fastest, hardest, most physical, most entertaining sport on skates and there’s a lot of excitement around as the last minute additions get put into place before the weekends face off.
Panthers Head Coach Tim Wallace said this week when interviewed by BBC Nottingham “It’s the best sport in the world in my opinion, It’s really exciting to get everybody back and play the game we all love”.
Nottingham will actually take on Coventry Blaze tonight in a friendly match ahead of the tournament as the final bits go into getting everything ready for launch.
The Motorpoint Arena is looking fantastic, the teams are almost ready and you can watch it all on Elite League TV by buying either a single game pass, a six game home team pass, a 12 game team pass or a 24 game series pass which allows you to watch your team online.
Dominic Talbot-Tassi is one of the Panthers latest additions having spent his most recent seasons playing in his native Canada for McGill University in the USports league and the 27-year-old defence man having spent just a couple of days in Nottingham ahead of the tournament start, told PanthersTV “It’s unbelievable, getting to play my favourite sport again, meeting some new brothers, being in a beautiful city, everything is perfect so far”.
Talbot-Tassi like many other players, has been out of the game for over a year no-thanks to covid restriction and stated “obviously the first few games will be tough for everybody, execution and compete levels, the hands are a little tight, legs are a little heavy, but we’re all here to win and I’m here to win more”.
He said “this is the perfect showcase for us, to prove what we are capable of doing on the ice.”
Ahead of Saturday’s encounter against Sheffield Steelers in unusual surroundings without supporters allowed through the turnstiles, Talbot-Tassi stated “There’s one goal in sport to win, fans or no fans, we know we have the support from the fans even though they are not in the arena and that’s huge, but we don’t need that much motivation when it comes to sport, the only motivation we need, is we want to win”.
Nottingham will face all three opponents (Sheffield, Coventry & Manchester) over four matches during the next month with the final league standings after 12 games determining playoffs position with the semi-finals over two legs and a best of three series final to determine the winner.
With each game taking place in Nottingham it is a competition designed to showpiece the best of Ice Hockey in the UK ahead of the IIHF World Championship in May thus allowing many of team GB’s players to get some much needed ice time ahead of the international competition.
Face off on Saturday between Coventry and Manchester is at 2pm whilst Nottingham and Sheffield do battle at 7pm, with Manchester playing Sheffield (2pm) and Nottingham taking on Coventry (7pm) on Sunday.
We’ll have all the news as always so keep posted for scores and updates.
*Main image @PanthersIHC fans of sorts will be in attendance to cheer the Panthers on.