Panthers Edge Giants Despite Fightback

Nottingham Panthers 5-4 Belfast Giants (Elite League) 12.11.22

The Nottingham Panthers beat Belfast Giants 5-4 in an Elite League thriller in front of a packed Motorpoint Arena on Saturday night.

Netminder Alex Dubeau missed out through injury, with Jack Berry getting the start in goal, while defenceman Duggie Lagrone was unavailable (injury reserve).

It was a special night at the arena with the raising of the new individual retired jerseys and one of them – Panthers legend Paul Adey – was on the ice for the proceedings.

The pre-game ceremony also remembered all those who have served our country, with the playing of The Last Post followed by a two-minute silence.

Berry made an early save to deny David Gilbert before Panthers took the lead with a sweet move, as Brett Welychka’s perfect pass set-up Adam Brady to tap in at the backdoor (8:11).

Nottingham made it 2-0 on the powerplay when Kelly Summers and Tanner Sorenson combined for David Levin to drill the puck past Peyton Jones from the left circle (10:07).

Jones did well to stop a Sorenson breakaway before Luke Ferrara popped home a rebound on the powerplay for his first goal of the season (18:19), but 17 seconds later Scott Conway closed the gap with a close-range finish (18:36).

Former Panther Jackson Whistle replaced Jones in the Giants net for the start of the second period, but he could do nothing about Jordan Kelsall’s clever tip from a blueline shot by Kelly Summers to increase Nottingham’s lead back to three (23:53).

Ciaran Long tapped home on the doorstep on a Belfast powerplay (27:17), but Nottingham roared back again as Matthew Myers set-up Welychka who scored on one knee from the left circle (31:20).

Berry made an out-of-this-world save as he flung himself to his left to stop Colby McAuley’s close-range shot and Whistle then superbly denied Brady from the slot at the other end.

Belfast closed the gap with two goals in two-and-a-half minutes, as David Goodwin got the final touch in the slot (49:26) before a perfect pass from Sam Ruopp saw Colby McAuley convert on a breakaway (51:46).

Great skills from Mike Hammond saw him jump away from a challenge but his shot was saved by Whistle, while Jeremy Welsh was denied from the slot.

There was drama at the end as Giants piled on the pressure, including an off-the-line clearance from Kelly Summers, but Panthers held firm for a breath-taking victory.

Panthers are straight back into action tonight with a Sunday night road trip to Scotland as the Nottingham team face Fife Flyers (6pm face-off). The next home match for the Panthers is on Friday with Guildford Flames visiting the Motorpoint Arena in the Elite League (7:30pm).

*Main image @PanthersIHC Brady shoots for the Panthers.

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