Nottingham Panthers 2-3 Sheffield Steelers (Elite Series) 03.04.21
Nottingham Panthers 1-3 Coventry Blaze (Elite Series) 04.04.21
It hasn’t been the start back that Nottingham Panthers would have hoped for as the first two games of the Elite Series both ended in defeat.
Nottingham won an exhibition game in preparation for the tournament 6-1 on Thursday night against Coventry Blaze but it was a different intensity over the opening weekend as Nottingham returned to the ice for a first competitive match in 398 days as they took on Sheffield Steelers at the Motorpoint Arena on Saturday evening.
Having watched Manchester Storm beat Coventry 3-2 in over time earlier in the day, Nottingham took to the ice against Sheffield and after a tightly contested first period ended scoreless, the Steelers took the lead almost 14 minutes into the second when Jonathan Phillips netted before double whammy, Liam Kirk made it two just a couple of minutes later.
In an entertaining second Nottingham struck back through Kevin Domingue before Austin Cangelosi tied the game at 2-2 to leave a final period with all to play for.
Liam Kirk however restored Sheffield’s lead just a minute in and Nottingham couldn’t break down the barrier of the Steelers defence so went in to Sunday’s match against Coventry 0-1 after a losing start.
On Sunday, Manchester beat Sheffield 5-4 to go clear at the top before the Panthers faced Coventry Blaze in the evening game but like the previous night, the Panthers fell behind as Keck netted early-doors before Byhnisveen made it 0-2 shortly after ten minutes.
Things got worse for Nottingham in a horrible first period as Sam Duggan scored during a powerplay and after a scoreless second, although Nottingham did get a response by Domingue netting his second of the weekend in the third, it was all too late for a comeback, Nottingham going into Tuesday’s match against the early pace-setters Manchester, already 0-2.
Post-match Panthers Director of Hockey Gui Doucet stated “That’s not the team we are” whilst Coach Tim Wallace suggested “We got outworked, simple as that”.
The Panthers will now be looking for major improvement next time out with further games after Tuesday’s match with Manchester, against Sheffield on Saturday and Coventry next Sunday.
*Main image @PanthersIHC ice hockey returns but Nottingham still yet to taste victory.