The Nottingham Panthers vs Manchester Storm: Preview
The Nottingham Panthers take on last seasons surprise package the Manchester Storm to open the league campaign on Saturday night at the Motorpoint Arena (7pm face-off)
Storm were the surprise package of the EIHL in 2017/18 as they finished in second place, in just their third season after they joined the EIHL in 2015.
After a strong regular season they came up against the Fife Flyers in the Predictor Playoff quarter finals and despite taking a lead into the second leg, in Manchester, they went down to the Kircaldy outfit in dramatic fashion when Carlo Finucci scored in overtime to end the Storm's season.
Games between The Nottingham Panthers and Manchester Storm in 2017/18 were all tight affairs with two games settled on penalty shots, both going the way of the Storm, each team claiming an overtime and regulation win.
Opposition Players to Watch
Mike Hammond made the move to Manchester from the now Glasgow Clan in the summer of 2017 and never looked back as he topped EIHL point scoring charts recording 83 points in 56 games. The dual national (born in Brighton before moving to Canada) then went on to represent Team GB as they recorded a gold medal and promotion to the international top flight this past summer.
The Storm also boast the EIHL's top goalscorer from a season ago, Luke Moffat, on their roster. The sniper scored 34 goals, on top of 32 assists for 66 points, and has been rewarded with an 'A' on his jersey for 18/19 and will it will be imperative for the Panthers to shut him down if they want to skate out victorious in the season opener.
Whilst The Nottingham Panthers enjoyed an undefeated pre-season (winning five, drawing one and scoring 29 goals) before defeating the Steelers on Saturday the Storm's pre-season has also been fruitful.
They opened their pre-season with a 4-3 victory over the University of Manitoba Bisons before going down 1-2 to Danish side Odense Bulldogs on penalty shots.
A day later they would take on more Danish opposition, this time in the form of CHL participants Aalborg Pirates and it would be Manchester coming out on top by a 7-1 scoreline.
The following weekend the Storm would split a DEL2 weekend, beating Toelzer Loewen 3-1 and losing to Eispiraten Crimmitschau 3-6, giving them a 3-1-1 record scoring 18 goals.
With both sides scoring freely it's set to be a barnburner of a league opener!
Tickets for the league opener on Saturday against the Manchester Storm (7pm face-off) are on sale now and can be booked through the link at the top of the page, calling the Motorpoint Arena on 0843 373 3000 or by visiting the box office.