The Nottingham Panthers endured a weekend to forget as they tasted defeat at the hands of both the Manchester Storm and the Glasgow Clan.
Corey Neilson’s side were beaten 2-0 by the Storm in Altrincham on Saturday night, before a late winner from Jordan Cownie on Sunday condemned them to a second defeat of the weekend.
The Panthers’ weekend of frustration was highlighted by the fact they finished the two games with just one goal to show for their efforts, despite having a combined 96 shots on goal across the two nights.
Nottingham now sit just four points ahead of the eighth-placed Clan in the final Playoff spot, albeit with four games in hand currently.
Neilson opted to start Peyton Jones in goal on Saturday night, with Craig Puffer a healthy scratch and it was the Panthers who went closest to opening the scoring in the first period, as defenceman Mike Caruso saw his shot ring the left post.
However, it was Ryan Finnerty’s Storm side who would ultimately break the deadlock at 27.13. Manchester moved the puck around well on their powerplay opportunity, with Cole Carter turning away sharply from Mathieu Gagnon behind the Panthers net and laying a pass out front for Tyson Fawcett, who finished his chance at the second time of asking to give the Storm the lead.
The visitors rallied in the third period though and had a string of chances to force overtime which they failed to capitalise on.
With the Panthers pushing hard for an equaliser late on, Jones was pulled from his goal allowing Chase Harrison to put the game to bed when he hit the empty net from his own zone at 59.42, capping off an uncharacteristically low-scoring game in Altrincham.
Sunday afternoon saw Alex Dubeau return between the Panthers’ posts, while top-scorer Brett Welychka was omitted from the line-up.
Much like Saturday’s game, the first period saw the Panthers pile pressure on the Glasgow defence. Jeremy Welsh and David Levin both went close to opening the scoring before Luke Ferrara’s effort was cleared off the goal line by Cownie at 9.54.
It took the Clan until the second period to really threaten Dubeau’s goal in any capacity, they did however force the opener at 27.29. Craig Peacock saw his shot off the faceoff saved by Dubeau, but player-assistant coach Dyson Stevenson was on hand to turn the rebound into the back of the Panthers net.
A four-minute powerplay opportunity for Nottingham came and went in the following minutes, without the hosts really creating any particularly threatening opportunities.
They did, however, manage to level the game up at 37.05 as good work from Mike Hammond and JC Brassard in the corner of the Storm zone saw the latter find Adam Brady between the faceoff circles, who fired into the top left corner for his 11th league goal of the season.
The third period began with a 5-on-3 powerplay for Glasgow in the early stages which Nottingham killed well, before Brady almost netted his second of the night with a superb tip on Brassard’s shot from the blueline which was well saved by John Muse in the Clan goal.
Yet another Panthers powerplay came at 49.07 as Gabriel Chabot was penalised, but the best chance of the two minutes fell to the short-handed Clan as Steven McParland broke in behind the Panthers defence and forced a strong save out of Dubeau.
Despite all the pressure, the home side were dealt a hammer blow just 71 seconds from the end of the game. Andrew McLean’s clearance off the boards was picked up by Gary Haden and he laid the puck wide for the onrushing Cownie, who broke down the left wing and beat Dubeau from a narrow angle at his near post to send Glasgow home with the points.
*Article provided by Evan Shaw (Nottingham Panthers Correspondent).
*Main image @PanthersIHC Panthers find the net v Clan but it’s double defeat over the weekend.