Nottingham Panthers suffered back to back defeats over the weekend in their final pre-season games ahead of their Elite League campaign start as Cardiff Devils won the Aladdin Cup over two matches played on both Saturday and Sunday.
At the Motorpoint Arena on Saturday night, a late comeback proved in vain as the Panthers were beaten 4-2 at the National Ice Arena by Cardiff Devils in game one.
The visitors took the lead in the second period at 32:00 when Mark Richardson’s shot from right point was deflected past Dubeau by Cox.
Cox scored his second of the night with a superb finish as he cut inside from the left (41:51) and Josh Brittain netted from close range after a well-worked Cardiff move (42:29) for two goals in 38 seconds.
The post denied Cox a hat-trick before Cardiff had a goal disallowed after the puck was kicked in by Brodie Reid.
Sanford scored Cardiff’s fourth when he did well to keep the puck in the zone and beat Dubeau through the five-hole (49:36).
Panthers got on the board as Kelsall drove in a rebound from close range for his second goal in as many matches (50:42).
Coach Gary Graham lifted Dubeau with just over four minutes remaining to go six-on-five and it paid dividends as JC Brassard and Ferrara combined to set-up Andrew Johnston in the slot (56:57).
Hammond hit the bar in the closing stages but Devils stayed firm to take game one.
On Sunday in South Wales, the Panthers were beaten 3-2 by Cardiff in a match that secured the two-match series to win the Devils the Aladdin Cup.
Nottingham were without Tanner Sorenson and Mike Hammond who were rested with minor injuries, while young defenceman Archie Hazeldine made his Panthers debut.
Jack Berry was given the start between the pipes, with Great Britain netminder Ben Bowns opposite him in the Cardiff goal.
Josh Brittain had a chance inside 30 seconds for Cardiff and Adam Brady went close at the other end, before Panthers took the lead through Brett Welychka’s near-post finish on the rebound.
Former Panther Mark Richardson hit the base of the post, but many of Cardiff’s first-period shots were kept to the outside.
Trevor Cox set-up Sam Duggan on the left wing to fire in Cardiff’s equaliser at 23:03, before Craig Puffer shot wide for the Panthers.
Berry denied Duggan with a great save down low, but could do nothing about the GB international giving the Devils the lead after a good build-up play from Sam Jardine and Brodie Reid (36:12).
Mathieu Gagnon went coast-to-coast but was unable to fully get his shot away, but it was Cardiff who stretched their lead to two shortly after.
Good cycling of the puck on the powerplay created the chance for Joey Martin to score in the right circle (44:42).
Andrew Johnston reacted first after a goalmouth scramble and the puck trickled past Bowns as Panthers closed the gap at 50:42.
Coach Gary Graham lifted Berry for the extra skater and despite late chances, including one in the slot for Jeremy Welsh, the Devils held on for the win.
Nottingham now start their preparations for next weekend’s opening Premier Sports Elite League game of the season.
The Panthers host Guildford Flames at the Motorpoint Arena (19:00 face-off) and you can purchase tickets by clicking here.
*Main image @PanthersIHC Nottingham were beaten in Cardiff to close their pre-season campaign.