Nottingham Panthers 4-5 Coventry Blaze *pens (Elite League) 03.02.24
The anticipated clash between the Nottingham Panthers and the Coventry Blaze unfolded on the 3rd of February 2024, showcasing a riveting battle between two determined teams vying for supremacy. Despite key players being absent from both sides, the game was a captivating contest marked by relentless intensity and notable momentum shifts.
The inaugural frame set the tone for an engaging and fiercely competitive encounter, with end-to-end action. Coventry capitalized on a defensive lapse by the Panthers, when Tyler Kirkup found the back of the net at 3:42. The Panthers were on the penalty kill as Hazeldine was boxed for hooking, however, swiftly responded to the challenge. Hugo Roy, a stalwart on the penalty kill, capitalized on a slip in the neutral zone at 5:37, levelling the score. Roy’s remarkable skating ability and deft hands kept the Blaze’s defensive unit on high alert throughout the period, resulting in a 1-1 tie.
Second Period: Powerplay Dynamics The second period maintained the tempo of the game, marked by dynamic and back-and-forth play. A soft high-sticking penalty on Henbrandt at 28:27 granted Coventry a powerplay, leading to Brady Norrish capitalizing from the left wing and giving the Blaze a 2-1 lead. Unfortunately, the Panthers faced another penalty kill scenario, culminating in J.D. Dudek’s goal at 29:50 as the well worked play came from behind the net to score the tight angle chance. The pendulum, however, swung back in favour of the Panthers with another powerplay. Anthony Luciani, in a pivotal moment, secured his first goal in black and gold at 33:18 as the puck took two deflections to bobble past Kozun. Despite the Panthers’ resurgence, the Blaze maintained a narrow 3-2 lead as the period concluded.
Third Period: The Battle Intensifies The final period unfolded with relentless pressure from both teams, in a great showing of team defence. A quick shot from Mathieu Lemay on the delayed penalty found its way past Kozun, assisted by Carl Neill at 47:17, pulled the Panthers level, injecting renewed energy into the arena. Momentum surged as Lemay, once again, showcased his prowess on the powerplay at 48:49 as he walked in from the right point to rifle the puck past the Coventry netminder, propelling the Panthers to their first lead of the night. After a timeout from Danny Stewart, Coventry responded swiftly, with Alessio Luciani knotting the game at 51:59 at the end of a Panthers’ powerplay. The teams exchanged penalties with Nieminen called for high-sticking and Brady Norrish called for interference. Resulting in a 4-4 score at the end of regulation.
Overtime: Panthers’ Dominance Coventry Blaze have won a league-leading 11 overtime games this season with the second highest being only 6 wins! Although, the overtime period witnessed Nottingham dominating with commendable defensive coverage and creative offensive plays. Mathieu Lemay came tantalizingly close to securing victory, hitting the post and narrowly missing the rebound.
Shootout: Coventry’s Triumph Despite the Panthers’ valiant efforts, they were unable to convert in the shootout. Coventry’s Tarun Kozun made crucial saves against penalty attempts from Lunsjo, Lemay, Luciani, and Nieminen. The Blaze secured the win as Kristo found the net, and J.D. Dudek executed a skilful move, solidifying Coventry’s triumph.
In this game replete with twists and turns, the Coventry Blaze emerged victorious in overtime and shootouts, showcasing their prowess in critical moments. Simultaneously, the Nottingham Panthers demonstrated unwavering resilience and determination in their quest for a crucial win.
*Article provided by Joe Maciag (Ice Hockey Correspondent).
*Main image @PanthersImages pride in Panthers performance all be it in shootout defeat v Blaze.