Storm v Panthers
1 - 6
The Nottingham Panthers got their Challenge Cup Quarter-Final underway on Tuesday night as they went to Altrincham to take on the Manchester Storm in the first leg.
Michael Garnett got the start in goal for the Panthers, with Patrick Munson backing up, opposite Matt Ginn for the Storm.
An early delay of game call against Josh Tetlow (1.43) saw the Panthers' penalty killers pressed into action, they successfully saw off the the Storm powerplay as they kept Manchester to the outside and away from Garnett's cage.
The home side, however, did take advantage of their next powerplay opportunity (7.44) when the Panthers were called for having too-many-men on the ice. Storm captain Dane Byers, parked at the top of the crease, deflecting a shot from the point past Michael Garnett (7.59) to make it 1-0.
Panthers captain tracked back to disrupt a potential Storm two-on-one opportunity and less than a minute later the Panthers tied the game. Josh Tetlow sprang Justin Kovacs down the right wing and he dropped the puck off for Alex Guptill, the current EIHL player of the week, who's shot from the top of the face-off circle rang in off the iron (16.03) to tie the game at one after 20 minutes.
A scrappy start to the second period saw both sides exhange multiple icings before Garnett was forced into a nice double save, denying a shot from the blueline then shutting the door on the rebound opportunity in front.
Nottingham grew into the game as the period wore on and a sustained spell of pressure in the Storm zone saw Pither denied not once but twice by Matt Ginn as the home side held on.
Linder Spring was sent to the box for delay-of-game (30.33) and Robert Farmer had the best look on the powerplay but his effort from between the face-off circles was saved and held by Ginn. No sooner had the Storm returned to full strength Dylan Richard scored his first for the Panthers (32.54) as he cut in off the right wing and roofed the puck over the glove of Ginn to give Nottingham the lead.
Michael Garnett caught the Storm on a line change when his stretch pass sent Alex Guptill down the left wing, he skated down towards the goal line before dropping the puck off for Mark Hurtubise who went bar down (37.05) to give the Panthers a two goal lead.
Nottingham weren't done there. With the clock winding down a turnover on the Storm blueline sent Guptill and Lachowicz in two-on-one and when the former fed the latter he rifled a one-timer into the Storm goal (39.03) to make it 4-1 after two periods.
The Panthers went on the hunt for more goals early in the third period as Ginn saved from Robert Farmer then denied Alex Bolduc on a partial breakaway. A Mark Hurtubise slapshot proved too hot to handle for the Storm netminder, however, and Alex Guptill was on hand to tuck in the rebound (47.51) to make it 5-1 with his secondd of the game,
Robert Farmer dropped the gloves with Declan Balmer (48.21) and Linden Springer was sent to the box (50.20) on a two (slashing) plus two (roughing) as frustrations started to boil over for the home side. Nottingham took advantage of the powerplay as Mark Hurtubise fired home a trademark one-timer (50.57) to cap off a pretty passing play featuring Dylan Olsen and Dylan Richard.
Michael Garnett had to alert with the right pad to keep it at a five goal spread.
Manchester killed off a late powerplay for the Panthers, giving themselves a sliver of hope heading into the second leg next Tuesday, and the hooter sounded on a resounding 6-1 victory for The Nottingham Panthers.