Panthers v Storm
2 - 4
The Nottingham Panthers and Manchester Storm faced off on Tuesday night to complete the second leg of their Challenge Cup Quarter-Final. The Panthers brought a healthy five goal lead into the game after a 6-1 in Altrincham just seven days ago but the Storm came in high on confidence after a defeating Nottingham 3-2 in overtime on Saturday night.
Patrick Munson got the start in goal, with Michael Garnett on back-up duties, for the Panthers who were without Robert Lachowicz (upper body), Jon Rheault (lower body), Kevin Henderson (upper body) and Sam Gospel (healthy scratch). Matt Ginn started between the pipes for Manchester.
Just over two minutes into the game the Panthers extended their lead. With Gui Lepine in the box for slashing (2.08) Tim Billingsley took advantage of a turnover on the Storm blue line to breakaway short-handed and slid the puck through the five-hole of Ginn (2.19) with the grace of a 30 goal scorer to make it 1-0 on the night and 7-1 on aggregate.
Munson had to be alert on the Storm's next powerplay (6.30) as he made a smart save in close to maintain the Panthers' lead.
Manchester tied the game when Hammond capitalised on a turnover by Munson in the Panthers' goal (14.02) and then gave themselves a glimmer of hope in the tie when they took the lead inside the final minute of the period, Hammond claiming his second of the night after some nice build up play (19.08) to make it 2-1 to the visitors after 20 minutes of play.
Gui Lepine forced Ginn into a good save with a one-timer from the blue line early in period two as the Panthers looked to tie the game before Patrick Munson made a larcenous glove save stretching to his left to keep the Storm at bay.
The Storm made things more interesting when Hammond completed his hat trick (33.30) after a slick passing play moved the puck up the ice to make it 1-3 on the night and 7-4 on aggregate.
Any fears of an immediate Storm fightback were quashed when Ollie Betteridge tied the game just 15 seconds later. Brett Perlini's shot ricocheting inn off his Team GB teammate as he crashed the net.
When Long was sent to the box with just under two minutes left in the period smelt blood in the water and they peppered Ginn's goal in search of a third goal to kill the tie but they found Ginn in top form as the period ended 2-3 to the visitors on the night but 8-4 to the home side overall.
Manchester killed off the remainder of Long's penalty with little fuss but were made to sweat when Alex Bolduc's back hand attempted skewed just wide of Ginn's right hand post. The visitors then thought they'd added a fourth goal after a scramble around the Panthers' goal (46.48) but the call on the ice of no goal was confirmed after a quick review.
Ciaran Long did add a fourth for the visitors just after the period past the halfway mark (50.57) to make things interesting inside the final ten minutes when he converted at the back door.
Things got a bit nervy for the Panthers when Dylan Richard was sent to the box (51.50) but Patrick Munson and the Panthers penalty killers stood tall and with no other major incidents, and Manchester deciding not to pull their netminder, The Nottingham Panthers took the tie 8-5 on aggregate and advanced to the Challenge Cup Semi-Finals despite the 2-4 loss on the night.