Panthers Catch Blaze For Four

Nottingham Panthers 4-1 Coventry Blaze (Elite League) 30.03.24

In a pivotal game with playoff implications, the 10th-placed Nottingham Panthers clashed with the 6th-ranked Coventry Blaze. With only four points and four places separating the two teams, the significance of securing two points tonight was paramount for both sides. The anticipation was palpable, with fans on both sides eagerly awaiting what promised to be an enthralling spectacle. The Panthers came into the match full of hope with their recent nail-biting 1-0 victory over the Fife Flyers, despite facing familiar challenges with key players Logan Neilson, Carl Neill, and Jake Ryczek sidelined due to injuries. The goaltending duel featured Rok Stojanovic guarding the Panthers’ net against Tarun Kozun for the Blaze.

Period 1 – Playoff Panthers

The Panthers wasted no time asserting their dominance, earning an early powerplay opportunity just ten seconds into the game as Hugo Roy was hauled down. Despite Lemay hitting the bar with the first shot, the Panthers maintained relentless pressure, with notable efforts from Ollie and Despres. Although the Blaze withstood the onslaught and successfully killed the penalty, the Panthers continued to control the flow of the game. A determined effort from Luciani saw him finish off a bobbling puck in the crease as he breaks the deadlock at 13:41, with his goal confirmed after a lengthy review by the officials. Assited by Westin Michaud and Joe Hazeldine. With the momentum firmly on their side, the Panthers doubled their lead at 16:51, courtesy of Luciani’s second goal of the game. Lemay danced through the offense zone, but his shot was saved but Luciani was on hand to pop home the rebound. Assited by Jordan Kelsall. The period concluded with a standing ovation for the Panthers, who outshot the Blaze 16 to 7 and demonstrated their playoff ambitions with a commanding performance.

Period 2 – Purring Panthers

The Panthers maintained their intensity into the second period, although they were sent on an early penalty kill after Michaud was called for a trip. Despite the Blaze’s efforts, their powerplay faltered, and the Panthers continued to apply pressure. Shearer was sent to the box and it was Panthers turn for the man advantage. Betteridge had the best chance on the powerplay as his one timer went agonisingly close. An opportune moment for Nieminen gives him time and space to pick out Anderson at the back post for an easy tap in. Scored at 28:55, assisted by Lunsjo as extended the Panthers’ lead to 3-0, further solidifying their dominance. Although the Blaze managed to narrow the deficit with a goal from McNulty at 35:03 as his shot hit off the post and in. The Panthers maintained control and were gifted another powerplay chance as Johnny Curran was unhappy with the officials and landed himself a misconduct. It only took 16 seconds for the Panthers to score on this man advantage as Hugo Roy tipped Joe Hazeldine’s shot at 38:34. Lunsjo picked up another secondary assist. Another dominant period from the Panthers with an 11-8 shot advantage.

Period 3 – Shutdown defence

The final period saw both teams settling into a defensive rhythm, with resilient defences thwarting any scoring opportunities. Despite Nieminen’s penalty early in the period, the Blaze were unable to capitalize on the powerplay. Rok’s stellar goaltending denied multiple scoring chances for the Blaze, preserving the Panthers’ lead. As the clock winded down, both teams exchanged chances in a bid to secure a late goal, but neither could find the back of the net. Tensions ran high in the closing minutes, resulting in penalties for both sides. Despite the spirited efforts from the Blaze, the game ended with the Panthers emerging victorious, sending the crowd into raptures of joy and belief in their team’s playoff aspirations. Do you believe? 

*Article provided by Joe Maciag (Ice Hockey Correspondent).

*Main image @PanthersIHC celebrations during a winning tie for Nottingham Panthers.

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