Ice Hockey Love – Valentines At The Panthers

Valentines’ Night meant two things for ourselves at the Nottingham Sport, our ‘esteemed’ editor, Danny Peacock, was spending time with his better half, whilst our senior correspondent, Peter Mann, was on press duties at the Motorpoint Arena as the Nottingham Panthers welcomed the Belfast Giants.

Our SC was in town visiting family, and took the opportunity whilst here to start his interviews ahead of the upcoming, International Women’s Day, next month; the focus for the first of those interviews was to be the Panther’s Social Media Officer, Sophie Rouse, who joined the club last summer.

At the Arena, he probably got more than he bargained for as well, just a shame it wasn’t topped by a Panthers victory, they going down to a late, 2-0 loss, to the visiting Giants, following a gutsy performance from the hosts.

Meeting Sophie, and the club’s Head of Media, Chris Ellis, went well, both of whom were very welcoming and forthcoming; as were the staff interacted with throughout the visit, with particular mention to the helpful, Lisa Rawding (Groups, Fan Liaison & Community Officer) pre-match.

Up in the press box, and a great view of the evening’s proceedings (whilst keeping a watchful eye on sporting events elsewhere, both Notts County and Mansfield Town, among others, were also in action), our SC also had the welcome addition of a chance meeting with Panthers CEO, Omar Pacha, who was entertaining guests.

The highlights continued as well, in attendance being that of season ticket holders, Mike and Vicki Lee; our SC has spoken to Mike on several occasions over the past few years on the back of the Panthers’ fans connection to the Nottingham Vipers Ball Hockey side.

Now with the Nemesis BHC (yes, there’ll be content there soon as well), the two ‘gentlemen’ took the chance for the most impromptu of meetings, chatting Ball Hockey, Ice Hockey, and life in general.

As for the game itself, the Panthers, as mentioned, put in a gutsy performance against their visitors, new signing, Finland’s Niko Lahtinen making his Panthers’ Viaplay Elite League debut; Ballymena’s Ethan McClean (and Team McClean were in attendance); and a delightful skate from one of Nottingham’s own, junior figure skaters, ahead of an upcoming competition (if you see/read this, and your parents agree to an interview, send us an email and will sort).

Panthers (resplendent in pink and black jerseys) net-minder Peyton Jones kept the Giants at bay for the majority, the contest looking like it was heading to OT goalless, however, and following injury to forward Adam Brady, the Giants struck twice late on to take the win; the latter coming after the hosts withdrew Jones in the closing minutes in favour of an extra forward.

Unfortunately, that only benefitted the visitors, they taking that opportunity to grab the decisive second, firing into an empty net in the dying seconds (Steven Owre 50:27; Scott Conway 59:33).

Next up for the Panthers, a trip to Belfast, on Sunday 19 February, followed by a home, double-header, the following weekend, with Cardiff Devils (Saturday 25) and Dundee Stars (Sunday 26) visiting the Motorpoint.

Keep up-to-date with all things Panthers via their Facebook, Twitter and website here.

*Main image @19vixen19 Senior Correspondent Peter Mann and Mike Lee (right).

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