A Scottish double-header at the weekend would see Corey Neilson’s Nottingham Panthers, lose at home, heavily, before winning, in over-time, a nine-goal thriller, north of the border.
On Friday night (2 December), at the Motorpoint Arena, the Panthers would find themselves losing 6-1 to the visiting Fife Flyers as Janne Laakkonen and Brayden Sherbinin both bagged braces for the visitors.
Kelly Summer netted what would prove to be the Panthers consolation, early in the second period, he pouncing on a rebound to fire home; that in itself gave the Panthers some hope at just 2-1 to the visitors.
However, that second period alone saw the Flyers add three of their own, Sherbinin’s second, and one for Reece Cochrane, a blast from the top of the left circle, came within the space of forty seconds of each other.
There was even time for fans to get excited over a fight early in the third period, Fabrizio Ricci (Panthers) and Chris Lawrence (Flyers) being sin-binned for five minutes, the Panthers swapping goaltenders in the closing stages with Matty Bloor coming on for Alex Dubeau.
The following night (Saturday 3 December), at the Dundee Ice Arena, the Panthers, and hosts Dundee Stars, would treat fans to a nine-goal, over-time thriller, an encounter which saw excitement from the face-off.
The Panthers goaltender, Jack Berry, saving well from Craig Garrigan inside the opening two minutes, before Craig Puffer saw a goal for the Panthers ruled out a minute later following a high stick.
Those two incidents alone set the pace for a high-paced encounter with the Panthers taking the lead after five minutes, Michael Caruso’s miscued shot falling kindly for Luke Ferrara, who swivelled and turned, firing home low.
Berry would save an effort, with his pads, from Johan Eriksson before the Stars got their first equaliser of the night; Ben Sokay would cut in and slot the puck past Berry, the Panthers immediately restoring the visitors lead less than a minute later, Jack Hopkins firing home through a crowd of players.
Stars levelled for a second time after eighteen minutes, taking advantage of a five-on-three powerplay situation, Roman Semjonovs firing home from the right, the goal meaning the second period would have the game ties at two apiece.
Early in the third period and the Panthers would lead for a third time, a Ricci effort was deflected home by Stephen Anderson.
Again, the Stars responded and tied the game at three just before the half hour mark, Philippe Sanche burying a rebound, the Scottish side taking the lead less than a minute later; Panthers’ David Levin would hit the post before the Stars took the puck to the other end and Barriga buried a rebound past Berry.
Shortly before the end of the second period and the Panthers levelled themselves, taking advantage of a five-on-three powerplay themselves as Brett Welychka is seen to fee Adam Brady in the slot for 4-4 going into the third.
Both sides had chances in the third period, Sanche hitting the post for the Stars before Jeremy Welsh had back-to-back efforts for the Panthers, Luke Ferrara coming close to winning it late on, the game heading to overtime instead.
A Barriga breakaway effort was stopped by Berry, with his skate, early in OT, whilst JC Brassard hit the Stars crossbar shortly after, before Michael Hammond, coming from behind the Stars net, fed the puck to Brassard, netting from the slot and sealing a 5-4 win.
Victory for the Panthers sees them in sixth in the EIHL, their weekend opponents taking the places directly beneath them with the Flyers seventh, and Stars eighth, ahead of the upcoming weekend double.
Second-bottom Manchester Storm are the hosts on Saturday (10 December), before the Panthers face the visit of fourth-top Cardiff Devils, the following night (Sunday 11 December).
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @PanthersIHC Nottingham left it late for overtime victory in Dundee.