The Nottingham Panthers split their weekend in Belfast after beating their hosts 4-2 on Friday night they fell to the Giants on Saturday night by four goals to one.
On Friday, two goals inside the first three minutes for Scott Conway (1.53 & 2.51) had the home side dreaming of a big win but the Panthers had other ideas.
Nottingham clawed their way back into the period and, just as the Giants killed a Panthers’ powerplay, Kevin Domingue forced a turnover and Robbie Baillargeon (17.02) beat Tyler Beskorowany one-on-one to make it 2-1 going into the second period.
Just over one minute into the middle frame Nottingham were level. Jeremy Welsh found Edwin Hedberg (21.05) from below the goal line with a perfect pass and the Panthers’ #40 made no mistake to make it a 2-2 game with a smart finish in front.
The teams exchanged powerplay opportunities throughout the rest of the period but both netminders stood firm & it was all to play for in the final frame.
Hedberg, full of confidence from his first goal in black & gold, skated in two-on-one with Christophe Boivin (45.59) & when the former fed the latter the Panthers had their first lead of the game.
Belfast hit the pipes twice on consecutive rushes late in the period and Matthew Myers (57.50) hit the empty net to seal two points for The Nottingham Panthers.
On Saturday night, once again Kevin Carr started between the pipes for the Panthers opposite Tyler Beskorowany and just like on Friday night, Belfast got off to the faster start as Ciaran Long (2.21) took advantage of a two-on-one break before things got even better for the hosts when Scott Conway (6.13) continued his fine scoring form, the puck trickling over the line despite Carr getting most of it, to make it 2-0 inside the first ten minutes once again.
Nottingham killed a penalty to Robbie Baillargeon & began to build momentum, that led to Sean Richards drawing a holding call out of Mark Garside & the Panthers struck on the man advantage.
The Panthers worked the puck around to Christophe Boivin (14.37) and his shot found a hole in the Giants’ netminder to make it a one goal game going into the second frame.
Belfast scored the only goal of the middle frame through Darcy Murphy (26.27), the shot finding it’s way in off of a Panthers’ defenceman, & despite Nottingham pressing for a way back into the game, Edwin Hedberg looking the most likely to find twine, they couldn’t breach the Giants’ netminder’s defences & went into the final frame trailing by two goals.
David Goodwin (52.45) gave Belfast a three-goal lead on the powerplay in the third period to seal the two points for the Giants.
The Panthers are back on home ice next Sunday afternoon (April 3rd) when they take on the Coventry Blaze at 4.00pm.
It’ll be the second meeting of the Midlands’ rivals inside the Motorpoint Arena in the 2021/22 campaign, Coventry taking the points back west with them after the game in October, & another big crowd is expected to roar the Panthers on on the road to the playoffs.
*Main image @PanthersIHC action in Belfast as Panthers split the points.