Panthers Win But Miss Playoffs

After a huge 4-2 victory against the Storm on Saturday night, the last day of the EIHL would be a barnburner regardless, with 4 teams still looking to book their place in the playoffs. For the Panthers, it was simple: they needed to win and have 2 of Clan, Dundee, or Coventry lose their games. With this in mind, the Motorpoint was bouncing before a puck was even dropped. Rok Stojanovic would once again get the start for the Panthers, and young Alex Oldale would be the choice for Head Coach Matt Ginn.

Period 1 – Nightmare Start for the Panthers

The first shift of the night wasn’t great for the Panthers as despite numerous chances to relieve the pressure, they couldn’t, and the turnover found Samuel Trembley all alone, putting Manchester ahead. Scored by Trembley, assisted by Hinam and Johnson only 1:15 into the game. Panthers tried to claw their way back, but sloppy passes were rife early on. Didrik Henbrant was a standout early on as he produced a beautiful coast-to-coast effort, cutting to the inside and rifling the puck low past Oldale to tie the game up at one apiece. Assisted by Simon Despres and Hugo Roy at 13:01. For the rest of the period, Panthers would begin to purr as Henbrant and Ollie went close to scoring quickly after. The period ended with Lemay getting two good chances off, followed by Lunsjo and Neill creating a goal mouth scramble. Panthers ended the period with what they have done all year round: fighting back.

Period 2 – End to End Chances

The middle period started as period one had finished, with Henbrant using his speed to be dangerous as he had a few good chances. Panthers continued with the good pressure as Mcgurty rang a shot off the bar after Michaud and Despres connected well. Storm responded to Panthers hitting the bar by hitting the post from a good shot. Storm began to build into the period, and an offensive zone faceoff win by Korol found Raymond Brice, who somehow beat Rok as it looped over him. Scored at 32:42. Storm came on strong after taking the lead as they forced turnovers and icings from a tired-looking Panthers side. But once again, they did what they do best: be resilient. Lunsjo and Anderson connected well, with the former putting a great shot on the net which was tipped by Mathieu Lemay, and we were back to being tied at 37:17. Storm had a golden chance with the seconds ticking away in the middle period as they attacked 4-on-2 but couldn’t capitalize. The period ended with Panthers the better side. They would have 20 minutes to extend their season.

Period 3 – Deadlock

Panthers really put on the pressure in the third period and were desperate to get the regulation win they deserved but didn’t test Oldale enough. Rok came up big when he was called upon. If I’m being honest, I didn’t make any notes during the third period as I was simply so engrossed in the game. The third period ended as it started, 2-2, and the game would go to overtime.

Overtime – Lunsjo the Hero!

The only shot in the overtime came from Alexander Lunsjo as his effort took a couple of deflections but beat Oldale for Panthers to take the extra point. Unfortunately, Coventry Blaze and Dundee Stars both got victories, so Panthers missed out on the playoffs and finished ninth. Despite not making the postseason, I am so incredibly proud of every player, coach, and both on-ice and off-ice staff for returning and continuing to put in 100% effort. As a fan of the club, I can safely say this is one of the best Panthers teams I have had the privilege of seeing. Through my work with Nottingham Sport, I have been able to get a behind-the-scenes look and get to know some of these players personally. They are genuinely incredible people, and I am greatly appreciative of the players and staff who gave me their time and insight. Regardless of what happens in the offseason, I wish the best to every player and staff for the rest of their careers and beyond. You will always be welcome in Nottingham.

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

*Main image @PanthersIHC OT victory wasn’t enough to see Panthers into the playoffs.

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