Betteridge on Playoff Push

After Saturday night’s dominant 4-1 win over the Coventry Blaze, I spoke to goal scorer and GB forward Ollie Betteridge to get his thoughts on that game and the playoff push. 

Q: Thoughts on the game? 

“I thought we battled really hard as a group. We know every game going into the end of the season is like a game 7. We are fighting for our playoff spot. I thought we battled hard as a group, played really well at all ends of the ice, and it was huge for us to get the win there!” 

This is certainly true; Panthers never gave the Blaze a chance to get into the game. They also outshot the Blaze 31-28, with 15 of the Blaze’s shots coming in the final period when they were already 4-1 down. 

Q: You were buzzing on the Stephan Anderson and Tyler Welsh line; how was it playing with those two? 

“Yeah, it is easy! It’s nice; they know what they’re doing at all times. It’s easy all over the ice, even in the offensive zone and defensive zone. So, it’s been fun playing with them.” 

Betteridge, Welsh, and Anderson are all renowned for their excellent defensive game, but it was their offense that really stood out to me. The three players managed 2 goals, 13 shot attempts, with 11 on target! 

Q: What’s the room like after that performance? 

“Yeah, it’s huge for us. This group that we have is special; we are all a big family, so to get the win the way we did tonight was great. The crowd was impeccable; you probably heard it yourself. They have been our backbone all season long. We thank them as a group. That was a huge performance for us which was much needed. It was a happy locker room in the end.” 

From the outside looking in, it’s clear to see how tight-knit this group is. The perfect example of this came this week when Panthers forward Alexander Lunsjo and his partner Sandra had a gender reveal with the entire Panthers’ squad. For them to share this moment with the team shows the family dynamic Ollie talks about. Congratulations to Alex and Sandra on the baby girl! 

Q: This game was pivotal in the playoff push; what was said before the game to make the team come out so strong? 

“We have played really well recently. You look at Sheffield away; we battled all the way and took them to the wire. We played Cardiff, and that was another big performance from us after going down and tying it back up, showing our warrior mentality. We know what we have in the locker room; we know we can do it and we have belief, and that’s the biggest thing in our locker room. We are a big family, and we go out there and put our bodies on the line. Tonight, we showed we are the team that we are.” 

Panthers do seem to be heating up at the right time with some great performances being strung together recently. I imagine confidence is brimming ahead of tonight’s clash against the Clan. 

Q: Panthers seemed to crowd the net more than usual and took plenty of shots; is that something the off-ice team pre-scouted? 

“Yeah, definitely! It was something Kevin (Moore) and Jon (Parades) said to us before the game. We need to get a net-front presence. It’s all good having our first opportunities, but we need to get on those second and third chances, and that’s where the goals are scored.” 

Q: What are your thoughts on the remaining games? We play Glasgow on Monday, then Manchester twice. 

“We are just trying to look towards our next game on Monday against Glasgow. That is where we are at right now, and we know it’s a game 7 mentality and we need to play how we did tonight. So that’s all we are looking at: That Glasgow game.” 

Q: You’ve had plenty of playoff experience in the EIHL; what are you telling the newer guys to the league about it? 

“We have a lot of leaders in that room, so there isn’t much that I really need to say, but we have a massive leadership group, and it isn’t just the guys that wear the C or the A’s but every single guy in that room. If I can help out or say something in any way to help the boys, I might do, but we have a big group of leaders and a great family in there.” 

Again, the theme of family comes up again, which is clearly so important to this Panthers group. I think the number of leaders in this group comes from the coaching staff, Jonathan Parades, Kevin Moore, and Rick Strachan have all been praised for their leadership in what has been a tragic season. It’s clear the amount of respect and love the coaching staff have for their players and it is reciprocated by the players. 

Q: You’ve been back from injury for a few games now; how is it being back out there? 

“It’s never nice being off the ice for quite a long period of time. So, to be back with the boys, it’s incredible, being amongst the group and back playing again makes me very happy!” 

Betteridge has only grown in confidence since returning to the lineup, and I think his stellar performance on Saturday will help massively going into these crucial upcoming games. 

Q: If you could win any award in the upcoming Panthers awards night, which award would it be? 

“I think any award would be an honour to take!” 

Certainly, a very diplomatic answer! 

Thanks to Nottingham Sport and The Nottingham Panthers for giving me the opportunity for this interview and thanks to Ollie for giving me his time! 

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

*Main image @PanthersIHC local born Ollie Betteridge has been a Panthers mainstay since 2014.

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