Lions v Panthers
3 - 1
The Panthers were always going to open this game on the defensive and, so they did.
It started as so, with the Panthers trying to capitalise on every break possible with the speed in the line-up.
They threatened at times, but Zurich were dominant and their first goal allowed them to reflect in on the scoreboard.
At 8:46 there was heavy contact to Betteridge’s stick and the Panthers looked for a penalty, with none forthcoming. In the meantime, Guerra took a pass from NHLer Korpikoski to the boards and his big slapshot beat Garnett.
Shortly after Billingsley was called for tripping, but the Panthers did a great job on the kill and denied the Lions any clear chances.
As the buzzer approached to end the first period, Garnett pulled out an incredible glove save, while falling backwards in the wrong direction, to keep the score 1-0 after 20 minutes.
The 2nd started more brightly for the Panthers, with the teams trading zone time and the Lions unable to impose themselves as they had before.
Then at 24:23, Lions’ #81 earned himself a two-minute rest for a high stick penalty and the Panthers got their first opportunity to display their lethal of late powerplay.
Panthers went close a couple of times, but unfortunately could not bring themselves back into the game at that point.
The sides traded good chances, with Jeff Brown getting the best of the first 15 minutes of the 2nd period.
In the final 3 minutes of the period, Bussieres made an excellent interception on the Panthers blue line to set up Brett Perlini, but his shot was well saved by Flueler who made a top-notch leg save to deny him an equaliser.
But, Brett Perlini and the Panthers disagreed and popped home the rebound following a big shot from Evan Mosey, just 52 seconds into the third!
Josh Shalla took a tripping penalty shortly after, but Lions #91 was sent to the box also for embellishment, leading to 2 minutes of 4-on-4.
Nothing came of that, but a fine wraparound effort found the tiniest of gaps under Garnett’s leg pad at 45:51 to restore Zurich’s one goal lead.
With 13 minutes gone in the final period, the Panthers saw a good chance go a begging as Mokshantsev displayed some phenomenal stick work to weave through the Lions crease, only for a last second stick lift denying him the chance to put the final touch on it.
At 55:40, the tournament’s overall top scorer, Fredrik Pettersson, made his first impact of the night with a fine effort beating Garnett over the shoulder, giving the Lions some breathing room for the first time in the whole match.
When #71 got called for tripping at 57:18, the Panthers got only their second powerplay of the night in their search to keep the scores close before the return leg.
That numerical advantage was doubled to a 5-on-3 for 53 seconds as #19 got called for tripping also.
It was not to be though, as Zurich kept them out and saw home their 3-1 lead, which they take to Nottingham on the 7th. Half time and Panthers are still in it.