Steelers v Panthers
2 - 1
The Nottingham Panthers
The Nottingham Panthers went to Sheffield on Saturday night to take on the Steelers in the latest chapter of British ice hockey's biggest rivalry.
Michael Garnett got the start in goal, opposite Jackson Whistle, for The Nottingham Panthers who where without long term absentee Jon Rheault and new signing Alex Bolduc.
It didn't take the Panthers long to their stride, just 3.20 into the contest Dylan Olsen displayed the vertical leap of a basketball player to glove down an attempted lofted clearance before feeding Justin Kovacs down the right wing. He cut inside then passed to Luke Pither who made no mistake as he rifled the puck past the Steelers netminder to make it 0-1.
Sheffield responded well to going a goal down, forcing Garnett into two monster saves.
At the 16 minute mark Robert Farmer picked the pocket of the returning Ben O'Connor at the right point but couldn't beat Jackson Whistle as he skated in alone. Sheffield continued to press for the rest of the period but the best chance fell to Robert Farmer in the 19th minute, the GB man breaking in on the right wing ony to be denied by Whistle again and The Nottingham Panthers would head to the second period with a one goal lead.
The Steelers came out all guns blazing in the second period as they looked to tie the game early, Nottingham fought back though and at 24.29 Tim Billingsley rattled one off the iron. When play went down the other end Billingsley was in the thick of things again, called for the first penalty of the night he then goaded a retaliation penalty out of Tanner Eberle who sat 2+2 for butt-ending to send the Panthers to the powerplay.
Despite not scoring on the man advantage Nottingham built some momentum and started to trouble Whistle regularly.
The powerplay unit had another chance to double the Panthers lead at 30.38 when Josh Pitt was boxed for interfering with Josh Tetlow, once again they couldn't find a way past Whistle.
Garnett stood tall once again when Guptill was sent to the box for slashing at 37.53, the Panthers netminder producing two highlight reel saves to keep the Panthers 0-1 lead in tact heading into the third period.
The first shift of the third period saw Garnett forced into a triple save as Sheffield continued to press for an equaliser.
A slew of penalties then followed. First Steve Lee was sent to the box for holding (43.39) before Stefan Della Rovere picked up a slashing penalty (44.40) that saw the teams skate four-on-four for 59 seconds. Sheffield once again kept the Panthers powerplay unit at bay after Steve Lee returned to the ice.
With Gui Lepine in the box for holding (47.32) the Panthers survived a Steelers powerplay to head into the final ten minutes with the lead.
Nottingham had a chance to ice the game when Eberle was sent to the box for goaltender interference (50.54) but were once again denied by Jackson Whistle and the Sheffield penalty kill unit.
In scenes reminiscent of last season Sheffield tied the game late, Mark Matheson beating Michael Garnett with a one-timer with 3.15 remaining.
The Panthers hit one just over the bar as the hooter sounded and the game went to overtime.
A frantic 30 seconds of overtime saw the Panthers attack first but on Sheffield's first foray down the ice Josh Pitt scored to give the home side the extra point.