SønderjyskE v Panthers
2 - 4
The Nottingham Panthers
THE NOTTINGHAM Panthers went into Sunday's game against Danish hosts SønderjyskE knowing that a solitary point would secure their spot in January's Continental Cup Super Final.
Kevin Carr got the start between the pipes for the EIHL side whilst former Panthers netminder Patrick Galbraith started in goal for SønderjyskE.
Brett Perlini (2.45) got the Panthers off to the perfect start when he applied the finishing touch to a pretty passing play between Brian Connelly and Jake Hansen, the GB international forcing the puck beyond his former teammate from the slot.
Less than a minute after the goal Jullian Talbot (3.43) was sent to the box for tripping but it was the Panthers who came closest to hitting the back of the net, Sam Herr rattling the iron on a partial breakaway before Carr had to make a strong save as the Danes attempted to jam the puck home on the doorstep and Nottingham returned to full strength.
Herr and DeSantis went close as the period passed the halfway mark and then it was the Danish sides turn to hit the post, Carr covering the puck up after it richocheted back off the iron after the hosts broke in two-on-one.
A late period powerplay for the Panthers came to nothing but they went into the first intermission holding their one-goal lead. Tensions were close to boiling point as the hooter went as a late hit on Robert Lachowicz went unpunished and the teams came together for a brief chat before leaving the ice.
Danny Fick was sent to the box early in the second period (20.50) but after a couple of strong saves by Carr the Panthers returned to full strength.
Shortly after returning to full strength the Panthers doubled their lead when Brett Bulmer cycled around the back of the SønderjyskE goal and his feed into the slot found the tape of Jullian Talbot (23.09) who ripped a one-timer by Galbraith.
A little over three minutes later the Panthers had a three goal lead. Brett Bulmer once again the provider as he hunted down a pucked dumped in from the neutral zone and threw it into the crease where Jon Rheault (26.35) was on hand to jam the puck over the line.
With the teams skating four-on-four Brian Connelly was interfered with and the Panthers went onto a four-on-three powerplay (27.22). Just 19 seconds into the powerplay Jason DeSantis ripped a wrist shot high into Galbraith's goal to give the Panthers a four goal lead.
That goal saw the end of Galbraith's night as the former Nottingham man was replaced by Nicolaj Henriksen.
SønderjyskE got a goal back just before the period ended when Phil Lane's (38.52) shot took a wicked deflection up and over Carr to make it a three-goal game going into the third period.
SønderjyskE made it a two-goal game early in the third period Mads Lund (41.38) found a rebound in the slot and slid the puck underneath a sprawling Carr.
Nottingham then had to kill a penalty to Captain Sam Herr (43.08) and they did just that, Gui Lepine and Jason DeSantis logging big minutes to muck up shooting and passing lanes to deny any route through to Carr's goal.
With no further major incidents the Panthers produced a professional defensive display for the remainder of the third and advanced to the Continental Cup Super Final with a 4-2 victory over host team SønderjyskE.