Panthers v Blaze
5 - 3
New Year's Eve saw The Nottingham Panthers take on the Coventry Blaze, for the second time in three days, as they looked to get back on track after three consecutive defeats over the festive period.
Michael Garnett got the start in goal for the Panthers, opposite Miroslav Kopriva for the Blaze.
The tone of the period was set early when Jaynen Rissling delivered a crunching mid-ice hit as he stood his man up at the centre ice line, Kopriva was called into action shortly afterwards when he denied Tommy Hughes' deflected effort from the blueline.
Kopriva had to be at the top of his game to deny Robert Lachowicz from the slot after great work from Jon Rheault, making his home return, found him all alone. The Panthers continued to pour on the pressure, this time Dylan Olsen pinched down from the blue line but his shot deflected up and out of play off of the blocker of Kopriva and the Blaze survived unscathed.
Nottingham killed a penalty to Luke Pither (11.26) and shortly after exiting the penalty box he hit the pipes as the Panthers continued to press. When Kevin Noble was called for slashing (17.40) it took the home side just 17 seconds to make the visitors play. Justin Kovacs worked the puck to Mark Hurtubise who found Alex Guptill all alone at the backdoor, and the EIHL's leading goalscorer made no mistake (17.57) as he beat kopriva on the short side to send the Panthers into the first intermission with a one goal lead.
The Panthers killed off a penalty picked up by Jaynen Rissling at the end of the first period (19.08) to begin the second frame. Shortly afterwards Nottingham found themselves short-handed again, Justin Kovacs (22.52) sent to the box for tripping, and Coventry tied the game, Luke Ferrara beating Michael Garnett (23.15).
Under two minutes later Dylan Richard (25.04) restored the Panthers lead, beating Kopriva high on the blocker side after Robert Lachowicz found him in acres of space.
Michael Garnett had to be his acrobatic self to stop Coventry tieing the game again, the Panthers' netminder spreading himself as big as possible before locating and covering the puck.
Robert Farmer extended the Panthers lead (35.22) when his spin-o-rama effort on the backhand found a gap in the armour of Kopriva, following a tremendous pass from the blue line by Josh Tetlow, to make it 3-1.
Coventry pulled a goal back, after a lengthy review, before the period ended when Kevin Morris found a loose puck in the crease and fired it into the cage of Michael Garnett. Making it 3-2 heading into the third period.
The Blaze killed an early third period penalty to Alex Nikiforuk and used the momentum built tie the game, Nicolai Bryhnisveen (45.08) finding room in the slot to fire a slapshot past Michael Garnett.
Luke Pither attempted to restore the Panthers' lead but Kopriva denied him on the wraparound before Jaynen Rissling made a great block in the defensive end to keep the game tied.
When Steve Lee skated across the blueline and unleashed a slap shot on Kopriva it proved too hot to handle for the Blaze netminder and Brett Perlini (54.36) found the loose change and deposited it into the Blaze goal to make it 4-3.
Less than two minutes later Dylan Olsen put the home side up by two (56.24) when his slap shot from the point beat Kopriva to seal the two points for the Panthers.