Steelers v Panthers
3 - 1
The Nottingham Panthers made the short trip up north to take on the arch-rival Steelers in Sheffield on Saturday Night.
Michael Garnett got the start in goal for the Panthers, opposite Jackson Whistle for the Steelers.
Garnett made the first save of the game as Pitt shot from between the circled before Jon Rheault saw his effort on a two-on-one turned aside by Jackson Whistle.
Ollie Betteridge, powering to the net, and Justin Kovacs, deflecting a sweet feed from Chris Stewart, went close in quick succession but could not beat the Steelers’ netminder.
Nottingham couldn’t take advantage of a late period powerplay, when David Phillips was sent to the box for slashing (16.10), and the teams went into the first intermission with zeroes across the board.
After the Panthers dominated the opening minute and a half of the second period the Steelers struck on the counter attack. Sheffield broke in two-on-one and Jonathan Phillips (21.56) bungled the puck into the Panthers’ goal, off his shin pad, to make it 1-0 in favour of the home side.
However, the Panthers found themselves level just over a minute later. Alex Bolduc (23.02) pouncing on the rebound from Ollie Betteridge’s shot in close as he roofed the puck high into the net of Jackson Whistle from in tight.
Sheffield killed a penalty to Eberle (24.38) before Garnett was forced into a smart save by Neiley as he broke in behind the Panthers defence. The home side had a goal washed out due to goaltender interference but did manage to take the lead just over 30 seconds later, Josh Pitt (29.57) on hand to score on the doorstep after Tanner Eberle’s shot eluded the grasp of Garnett.
Nottingham killed two penalties to close out the period and went into the third period trailing by one.
Josh Tetlow snuck down between the hashmarks early in the third period but Jackson Whistle saved and held onto his shot.
As the period ticked towards the halfway point Luke Pither saw his effort at a half empty cage blocked by a Steelers’ defenceman, the Panthers went on the powerplay on the same play as Jonathan Phillips was called for interference (47.49).
Justin Kovacs had the Panthers best chance on the man advantage when Chris Stewart found him in acres of space but he could only find the Steelers crest on the chest of Whistle and Sheffield returned to full strength.
With time winding down Alex Guptill saw his wrist shot spilled by Whistle but the home side cleared the puck before the Panthers could take advantage of the rebound.
Rick Strachan used his time-out with 23 seconds remaining and with Michael Garnett pulled the puck trickled agonisingly wide of Kovacs at the back door, who had a wide open cage at his mercy, and the Steelers scrambled the puck out of their defensive zone before scoring into the empty net to seal the game on the buzzer.
Photo credit: Andy Burnham