Nottingham Panthers 4-1 Coventry Blaze (Elite Series Semi Final 2nd Leg) 28.04.21
The Nottingham Panthers booked their ticket to the Elite Series Playoff Finals on Wednesday night with a dominant win over the Coventry Blaze.
Jackson Whistle started in goal for the Panthers once more opposite Shane Owen for the Blaze.
Nottingham wasted no time in increasing their advantage when, just 25 seconds into the game, Owen Griffiths found Austin Cangelosi at the back door and the speedy centre made no mistake to put the Panthers up by one on the night (three ahead on aggregate).
Dominic Talbot-Tassi made a wonderful cross-ice pass to Nick Dineen on a Panthers’ powerplay but the puck hit a rut in the ice at a crucial moment and Dineen’s shot went agonisingly wide with the goal gaping.
A chaotic few minutes saw the Blaze draw level on the night.
First Christophe Boivin was denied a goal by quick whistle from the officials, the French-Canadian finding a loose puck in a goal mouth scramble and firing into the back of the Blaze net, and on their next attack a freak bounce saw the Blaze score their first goal of the tie. Whistle made the initial save from Simen Andre Edvardsen’s (13.00) shot but the puck looped high in the air and crossed the line on its way back to the ice.
The Panthers would have the final say in the period though as when Talbot-Tassi sprang Brett Perlini and Kevin Domingue (17.22) on two-on-one breakaway the former fed the latter who made no mistake at the back door, much like Cangelosi’s opener, to send Nottingham into the first intermission holding a one goal lead on the night and a three goal lead on aggregate.
It was a cagey start to the second period and Coventry eventually got their chance to get back into the game when Cangelosi (26.37) was sent to the penalty box for tripping which brought the dangerous Blaze powerplay unit to the ice.
It was the Panthers who had the best chance of Coventry’s man-advantage though as Jordan Kelsall hit the post on a short-handed breakaway before Nottingham returned to full strength.
As has been the case throughout the Elite Series against the Blaze the Panthers dominated the game five-on-five and Kevin Domingue came close to getting his second of the game but his one-timer from in close was turned aside by the pad of Shane Owen.
It was then Jackson Whistle’s turn to make a stunning save, the GB international going across his crease to flash the leather and keep the Panthers one-goal ahead.
That save allowed Nottingham to increase their advantage minutes later when Owen Griffiths shot rebounded to Austin Cangelosi (32.13) who had time to control the puck before firing into the back of the net with Owen out of position.
Coventry did hit the post late in the period but there was no further scoring and Nottingham went into the final period of the game leading by three goals to one (5-1 on aggregate).
The best early chance of the third period fell to Kevin Domingue who couldn’t quite believe he managed to miss an empty net tap-in after a great feed from Brett Perlini.
It remained a tight contest until there were a little over six minutes remaining and things got a little dramatic.
Coventry thought they had pulled a goal back on the powerplay but, after a lengthy delay, the goal was wiped off for offside. Nottingham killed the final minute of the powerplay after time was restored and fresh out of the penalty box Austin Cangelosi (54.27) broke into the offensive zone and beat Owen one-on-one to run salt into Coventry’s wounds.
The Blaze did ask for the goal to be reviewed but a much swifter check confirmed what everyone on the Panthers’ bench new, the goal was good and put the bow on a terrific team performance to send the Panthers to the Elite Series Playoff Finals.
*Main image @PanthersIHC Whistle & Betteridge celebrate reaching the final.