It was double defeat for the Nottingham Panthers over the festive fixtures against Sheffield Steelers as the Elite League table toppers won 5-3 in Sheffield on Boxing Day before a 4-1 thumping at the Motorpoint Arena last night.
In Sheffield, a nightmare first period had the game all but won for the home side on Sunday. Goals from Marc-Oliver Vallerand (7.00), Evan Mosey (11.22) and Tanner Eberle (15.13) gave the Steelers a three-goal lead, and the Panthers a mountain to climb, after just one third of the game played.
Jordan Kelsall showed some fight when he delivered a massive, clean hit along the boards before dropping the gloves with Vallerand but it was Sheffield who went into the first intermission much the happier of the two teams.
Christophe Boivin (21.49) gave Nottingham a glimmer of home early in the second frame when he split the defence and beat Stojanovic high on the glove side, the speedy forward unleashing a wicked wrist-shot from between the face-off circles, and then Mathieu Tousignant (33.07) made it a one-goal game when he deflected Josh Tetlow’s shot over the line.
Nottingham’s momentum was crushed late in the period though as Eberle (39.30) took advantage of Carr losing his stick to score in close and give Sheffield a 4-2 lead going into the final 20 minutes.
J.C. Brassard (41.32) made it a one-goal game once more early in the third period when his knuckle-puck of a shot beat Stojanovic but, despite the Panthers valiantly searching for an equalising goal, late penalty trouble dashed hopes of a famous comeback and an empty net goal from Martin Latal (59.38) sealed the two points in favour of the Steelers.
Yesterday Nottingham shown plenty of fight early doors in a goalless first period as Mathieu Tousignant & Jordan Kelsall dropped the gloves on separate occasions to bring the Panthers’ faithful to their feet but despite the momentum gained they couldn’t find a way through whilst Carr was on hand to turn aside no fewer than four Steelers’ breakaways.
Jeremy Welsh was denied early in the second period by an incredible sprawling save by Stojanovic, the Sheffield man going post-to-post to turn aside the Nottingham forwards one-timer.
Sheffield took the lead through Alex Graham (34.49) and less than two minutes later Marc-Olivier Vallerand (35.08) doubled their advantage, the visitors taking a two-goal cushion into the final frame.
Nottingham pushed in the third put lacked that final touch in front of goal and Tanner Eberle (54.40) piled on the Panthers misery late in the period.
Sean Richards (56.28), however, provided a brief moment of joy as he scored his first professional goal before time ran out but Vallerand (59.27) added his second of the night with an empty netter, Carr pulled in favour of the extra attacker, to condemn the Panthers to a second defeat in as many nights.
It was sad news ahead of the game yesterday too as the club learned of the passing of legend Gary Moran. The Panthers official twitter stating “After a short battle with illness Gary passed away early this morning & the thoughts of everyone at the organisation are with his family & friends at this incredibly tough time.”
Gary played out various capacities over a 30 year spell at the Panthers including General Manager, he was also General Secretary of the IHUK and had been involved in ice hockey in Great Britain since the 1980’s.
*Main image @PanthersIHC arena action as Sheffield prove too strong over the two festive games.