The Nottingham Panthers vs Cardiff Devils 26/09/18: Preview
Defending EIHL champion Cardiff Devils visit the Motorpoint Arena tomorrow (Wednesday 26th September 2018) to take on The Nottingham Panthers with two important Elite League points on the line.
Cardiff, the current Elite League and Playoff holders, will be looking to maintain their 100% to the domestic season whilst the Panthers aim to bounceback after a 2-5 defeat to the Glasgow Clan on Saturday night.
In the eight game season series in 17/18 The Nottingham Panthers went 3-5-0 against the Devils, Cardiff taking the first two games in South Wales by scorelines of 4-1 and 6-2. The Panthers came out on top of the third clash between the sides 7-4, Mathieu Gagnon scoring a memorable coast-to-coast goal early in the third period to tie the game at three as Nottingham fought back from 2-3 down after 40 minutes.
In the lowest scoring game between the rivals Cardiff took two points out of Nottingham on December 9th in a 1-2 victory. The Devils again defended their home ice on January 7th when a disatrous first period for the Panthers saw them 4-0 down after just 11.16, Ollie Betteridge and Jeff Brown cut into the deficit but Cardiff secured a 5-2 win.
Nottingham gained a measure of revenge just 13 days later, defeating the Devils 6-4 on the back of a two goal game from David Clarke who scored the game-winner at 43:47 on the powerplay with a trademark one-timer from the point. The game maybe most remembered for the bought between Mathieu Gagnon and Justin Faryna in a contender for fight of the season, both competitors receiving a standing ovation from the Motorpoint Arena crowd for their efforts.
Cardiff sealed the season series on February 11th, defeating the Panthers 7-3 at Ice Arena Wales after Jeff Brown had given Nottingham a first period lead.
A Robert Lachowicz and Zack Phillips double saw The Nottingham Panthers take the points from the final meeting against Cardiff 7-2, Michael Garnett producing a 26 save performance that saw him swing the games momentum by denying Joey Haddad, on the breakaway, with the score tied at zero.
Both sides represented the EIHL in the Champions Hockey League in 17/18 where Nottingham became the first British team to advance to the last 16 of the competition after victories over HK Mountfield, SC Bern and TPS Turku. Cardiff didn't advance from the group stage but still clamed the scalps of European powerhouses HC Davos and Växjö Lakers to leave their mark on the competition.
Fear the Beard
Zack Phillips, now plying his trade in the EBEL for Fehérvár AV19, top scored for the Panthers against the Devils in 17/18. The playmaking centre recorded eleven points (four goals, seven assists) across the eight games.
He was closely followed by Jeff Brown whose eight points against Cardiff (two goals, six assists) included assists on the game winners on January 20th and February 17th.
Brett Perlini (two goals, four assists) and Mark Derlago (one goal, five assists) both recorded six points with Robert Lachowicz (three goals, two assists) and Yann Sauve (two goals, three assists) adding five points each. Perlini (February 17th) and Lachowicz (November 19th) notched game winning goals during the season series.
In pursuit of a historic three-peat the Cardiff Devils saw minimal change to their roster over summer with only four new additions in the form of Charles Linglet (330 plus KHL games), Mike Hedden (150 plus DEL games), Stephen Dixon (180 plus Finnish Liiga games) and Ben Blood (140 plus Finnish Liiga games). All of whom bring extensive top flight European ice hockey experience to an already impressive Cardiff Devils line-up.
It was a very different summer for The Nottingham Panthers with eleven new faces joining the team on top of Rich Chernomaz replacing Corey Neilson at the helm after a trophyless 17/18 season.
Amongst those new faces to the Panthers is returning fan favourite Gui Lepine, who won seven trophies in his previous three season spell with the Panthers from 2010 to 2013, after five seasons away in North America. Upon the completion of the pre-season Gui was named captain of The Nottingham Panthers.
The new faces joining Gui on the Panthers roster this season are Justin Kovacs, Tommy Hughes, Alexander Guptill, Jon Rheault, Dylan Olsen, Kevin Henderson, Jaynen Rissling, Jacob Doty, Mark Hurtubise and Tyler Biggs.
This Season So Far
Nottingham welcomed Cardiff to the Motorpoint Arena to face-off the 18/19 pre-season in a game that ended 5-5, Alex Guptill tying the game in the final minute.
In the return fixture the next night the Panthers secured victory, and the Aladdin Cup, by defeating Cardiff 6-3 in Ice Arena Wales.
The Panthers went on to enjoy an undefeated pre-season defeating Dresdner Eislowen, Fischtown Pinguins, MAC Budapest and Stavanger Oilers whilst Cardiff shared wins with HK Poprad and the Coventry Blaze.
Cardiff then began their CHL adventure, falling to Red Bull Salzburg in their opening fixture before recording their first point of the competiton in an overtime loss to SC Bern. Further defeats to the same opponents saw their hopes of qualifying for the last 16 disappear but with two games against Växjö Lakers to come there is still time for the Devils to leave a mark on the competition.
The Devils began their domestic season with a 3-2 win over The Nottingham Panthers, storming back in the third period after being 0-2 down after 40 minutes. Until that defeat in Cardiff the Panthers had continued their undefeated streak from the pre-season with victories over Sheffield (Challenge Cup) and Manchester (League). Nottingham bounced back from that defeat to win in Coventry on penalty shots and in Belfast by a 3-6 scoreline before falling to the Clan 2-5 on Saturday night.
Cardiff carry a four game winning streak in domestic competitons into tomorrow's game after further victories over Milton Keynes, Coventry and Sheffield.
Mark Hurtubise tops the EIHL point scoring charts with 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in seven domestic games, including 3 goals on the powerplay from his now trademark spot at the top of the left wing face-off circle.
Matt Pope leads the way for Cardiff with nine points (two goals, seven assists) in four domestic games and the Panthers will have to shut him and reigning EIHL MVP Joey Martin down in order to skate out with the two points.