Panthers v Storm
The Nottingham Panthers
4 - 1
Saturday night saw The Nottingham Panthers take on the Manchester Storm in a crucial Challenge Cup match-up inside the Motorpoint Arena.
Jackson Whistle got the start in goal for the Panthers, with Thomas Hovell backing up to allow Head Coach Tim Wallace to dress all of his import out-skaters, opposite Matt Ginn for the Storm.
Jullian Talbot was denied a debut goal when Ginn shut the door on him with the right pad after great work from Brett Bulmer. That save, however, proved a catalyst for the Storm and they soon took the lead.
Kyle Hope took advantage of a turnover in the Panthers’ defensive zone (4.18) and beat Whistle to bring the visiting fans to their feet.
William Quist came close to tying then game, when he kept his feet moving and fashioned his own scoring opportunity, only to be denied by the Storm netminder. Minutes later Sam Herr did tie the game, after a quick review on the goal line technology, when Player/Assistant Coach Mark Matheson powered to the net front and the Captain applied the final touch as he hacked and whacked at the loose puck in the goal crease.
Nottingham killed a late first period Storm powerplay (17.49) with relative ease and the sides went into the first intermission tied at one.
Dylan Malmquist came close to opening his professional account early in the second period only for Ginn to deny him with a smart positional save before Danny Fick hit the post with his shot from the blue line.
Jackson Whistle had to make a stunning cross-crease save, after Ginn sprang the Storm on a two-on-one with a lovely stretch pass, to keep the game time before a long passage of play without a whistle. During that that passage the Storm thought they’d scored and Head Coach Ryan Finnerty requested a video review (27.37) at the next stoppage in play. After a quick check the call on the ice was confirmed and the Storm lost their time-out.
Just over a minute later Malmquist found the red hot Jake Hansen (28.58) all alone in front of Ginn and he made no mistake in depositing the puck through the five-hole and into the back of the net to give the home side a 2-1 lead.
Quist, Lachowicz and Herr all went close as the Panthers pressed for a third but Ginn continued to provide stubborn resistance. Whistle recovered from some difficulties behind his goal to get back into position and make a smart save though traffic as the period came to a close and the Panthers went into the third holding a one goal advantage.
Georgs Golovkovs (43.18 ) extended the Panthers’ lead early in the third period. The Latvian skating in two-on-one with Robert Lachowicz and he used the testimonial man as a decoy and hit the back of the net on the blocker side.
A mix-up in front of Whistle saw a Storm forward all alone with the Panthers’ netminder but he stood tall to turn the effort aside and preserve the two-goal lead.
With Brian Connelly in the box on a late third period delay of game penalty (56.31) Sam Herr picked a pocket on the Storm blue line, skated in alone on Ginn and beat the Storm netminder through the five-hole (57.17) to make it 4-1 in favour of the Panthers.
Nottingham returned to full strength and saw out the remainder of the game without incident to take the two crucial Challenge Cup points on offer.