A magnificent finals weekend took place at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham without, of course, the Nottingham Panthers who were beaten by Guildford Flames in the quarter finals over two legs last month, but with Elite League champions Belfast Giants, Dundee Stars who knocked out Sheffield Steelers and Cardiff Devils, as well as the Panthers conquerors themselves.
In the first semi-final on Saturday it was a convincing win for Belfast over Dundee as the Northern Irelanders beat their Scottish opponents by six goals to zip.
Mark Cooper netting the first three before further goals by Jordan Boucher, Lewis Hook and David Goodwin sent the league title winners through to the final.
In a much closer contest, Cardiff came through against Guildford in the second semi as a late power play goal by Justin Crandall sent them through.
Cardiff had gone 2-0 up with goals in the first two periods through Jake Coughler and Cole Sandford before the Flames pulled back the tie level in the third thanks to two Turner Rippingler finishes.
However it was the Devils who made it through with late advantage, Crandall’s goal coming less than three minutes before time.
Sunday saw the third and fourth place match up and final in an entertaining day of goals at a packed National Ice Arena.
The Flames beating the Stars 7-5 to start the day with a flurry for the fans before the final itself resulted in a cracker, eventually taken by Cardiff who although kept the edge for most of the match, eventually ran away from the Giants late on.
Cole Sandford again in the goals early to open up the match score before Jake Coughler doubled the Devils advantage in the first. Scott Conway replied for the Giants in a powerplay before Ben Lake levelled things up in the second, not for long as Stephen Dixon restored parity. Devils 3-2 up into the third.
Brodie Reid made it 4-2 before Tyler Soy pulled the game again to one, late on with Belfast chasing Trevor Cox and Josh Lammon both scored into empty nets to put the game beyond doubt and win Cardiff Devils the 2021/22 Elite League Playoffs.
- Semi Final: Belfast Giants 6-0 Dundee Stars
- Semi Final: Guildford Flames 2-3 Cardiff Devils
- 3rd/4th Playoff: Guildford Flames 7-5 Dundee Stars
- Final: Belfast Giants 3-6 Cardiff Devils
Nottingham’s absence resulted in the departure of the clubs Director of Hockey Gui Doucet. The club thanked Doucet for his efforts but many believe he was responsible for the acquisitions which ultimately ended in the failure of the side in missing out in this years playoffs, it’s going to be a busy Summer for the Panthers who’ll now look to recruit in several departments to strengthen their push next season.
*Main image @PanthersIHC Gui Doucet is relieved of his duties in Nottingham.