Panthers v Storm
5 - 2
The Nottingham Panthers welcomed the Manchester Storm to the Motorpoint Arena on Saturday night to face-off a rare home-and-home weekend.
Patrick Munson got the start in goal for the Panthers opposite Matt Ginn for the Storm.
Robert Lachowicz was at his disruptive best to strip a Storm defenceman of the puck before drawing an early powerplay for the Panthers (3.05), Dylan Richard went close with a one-timer at the backdoor, only to be denied by the glove of Ginn, with the Panthers on the man advantage but the Storm penalty kill stood firm and the visitors returned to full strength.
Just after the game passed the halfway mark Chris Stewart had the puck in the back of the Storm goal only for it to be washed out for an offside. Using his size along the boards he then drew a cross-checking penalty (13.43) to send the home side to their second powerplay of the night.
Manchester killed the penalty and with the clock winding down Patrick Munson came out to the top of his crease and made himself big to keep the Storm at bay, sending the game into the first intermission with the teams tied at zero.
A quiet second period exploded into life as the game crossed it’s 29th minute.
Ollie Betteridge picked a pocket on the blueline and his picture-perfect cross-ice feed hit the tape of Alex Guptill (29.16) and he made no mistake firing a one-timer high into Ginn’s goal to make it 1-0 in favour of the Panthers.
Captain Gui Lepine then dropped the gloves with Dallas Erhardt after a hit along the boards, the Panthers defenceman recording an emphatic victory to bring the Motorpoint Arena to it’s feet.
The Panthers thought they’d doubled their lead just 45 seconds later, when Chris Stewart jammed the puck by Matt Ginn on the doorstep, only for it to be washed out by the referee on the spot.
However, once play was whistled down two minutes later the play was reviewed and after a quick check the on-ice call was overturned, and the goal stood (29.59) to make it 2-0.
Nottingham killed a penalty to Tim Billingsley (41.41) but found themselves short-handed once again before the period ended, Jaynen Rissling (37.21) penalised for tripping.
With the Panthers short-handed Steve Lee blocked a shot then sprang Alex Bolduc on a breakaway and the big French-Canadian finished with aplomb. Making it look easy as he went high glove on Ginn (38.36) to put the Panthers three goals to the good.
Manchester pulled a goal back before the period ended (39.14) and leaving it all to play for in the third period.
Luke Pither eased any fears of a Manchester comeback when he skated out of the corner before firing high into Ginn’s net on the backhand (42.12) after going close moments earlier.
Things got even better for the Panthers when Tim Billingsley’s slapshot from the point (47.29) deflected off a Storm defenceman on it’s way up and over Matt Ginn to make it 5-1, the goal signalled the ned of Ginn’s night as he was replaced between the pipes by Adam Long.
Manchester killed a five-on-three powerplay for the Panthers before pulling a goal back. Pulling their netminder with over five minutes to go Dane Byers (55.12) fired the puck by Munson to make things a little more interesting.
Despite two late powerplays, where they once again pulled the netminder in favour of the extra attacker, the Storm couldn’t find a way by Munson and The Nottingham Panthers secured their spot in the PredictorBet Playoffs with a 5-2 victory.