Panthers v Flyers
The Nottingham Panthers
3 - 0
After a 3-3 tie in Kirkcaldy on Saturday night The Nottingham Panthers welcomed the Fife Flyers to the Motorpoint Arena on Sunday with everything to play for in their PredictorBet Playoff Quarter Final second leg.
Patrick Munson once again started in goal for the Panthers, who welcomed Jaynen Rissling back from suspension, opposite Shane Owen for the Flyers.
The visitors were caught flat footed once the puck dropped and called for too-many-men (3.11) during a slow line change. Fife almost killed the penalty but were made to pay for their lapse in concentration, Dylan Richard (5.11) finding a loose puck at the top of the crease and firing by Owen to bring the Motorpoint Arena to it's feet and put the Panthers ahead in the two-legged affair.
Fife grew into the game, Basara testing Munson from the slot before Josh Tetlow had to throw himself in front of shot, after a turnover in the Panthers' zone, with Munson stranded.
Dylan Olsen, playing in his third game back after a lower body injury, saw his shot, following great work from Jaynen Rissling, blockered out of play and then once again the Panthers were putting their bodies on the line. This time player/assistant-coach Kevin Henderson diving in front of a shot from the blue line to stop the puck getting through to Munson.
Owen was in the thick of things when Fife took anther penalty, this time Crowder for hooking (15.45), and he denied Guptill at the back door just as the Flyers returned to full strength. Chris Stewart then rang the iron when he skated around his defenceman before the Flyers were once again caught with too-many-men on the ice (19.16), they survived the 44 seconds of penalty kill time in the period as the hooter went with the Panthers leading 1-0 (4-3 on aggregate).
Fife killed the remainder of the too-many-men penalty to begin the second period before going onto a powerplay on their own, Kevin Henderson (23.29) sent to the box for tripping. Munson flashed the leather to deny Gauthier and the Panthers returned to full strength.
Nottingham started to build momentum as the period wore on with Hughes and Hurtubise going close in quick succession, Owen then had to alert again as Hurtubise lined up one of his patented slapshots only to be denied by the stick of the Fife netminder.
Robert Farmer showed tremendous strength and determination along the board below the goal line to power himeself to the front of the net and get a shot on goal, he found Owen in imperious form though as the Fife netminder turned his effort aside.
There was still time for Owen to make one more save in the period, this time denying Stewart as he broke in on goal to send the teams into the second intermission with just the one goal to separate them.
A tense beginning to the third period saw Dylan Olsen fire just over, then Munson forced into a glove save as Cazzola fashioned himself a scoring opportunity in the high slot.
Olsen then sprang Stewart down the left wing and the former NHLer almost found Brett Perlini all alone in the slot but the puck just squirted wide of the GB international.
Bolduc was the next to test Owen, this time from point blank range and then Jaynen Rissling made his return to the line-up felt as he delivered a crunching hit next to the Flyers' bench.
The Panthers continued to pepper Owen's net with no way through and with the game rolling into it's final 2 minutes the Flyers pulled their netminder and Richard (58.00), from inside the Panthers zone, scored into the empty net before Robert Farmer extended the lead (58.38) with another empty netter, off a sweet assist from Chris Stewart, to send The Nottingham Panthers to the finals weekend!
Photo credit: Josh Dixon