Panthers take playoff crown
ELITE LEAGUE ICE HOCKEY:
Cardiff Devils 0 Nottingham Panthers 2
Nottingham Panthers were crowned Play-Off Champions for a second year in a row after a dramatic 2-0 victory over Cardiff Devils at the NIC, Devils losing their third Play-Off Final in a row in the process in a repeat of last season’s final.
The game started with some hard hitting from Panthers and there was no doubt that The Lace City side grabbed the early initiative. In the third minute a great glove save from Stevie Lyle denied Jordan Fox while Devils first real chance was in the fifth minute when Scott Dobben saw his fierce shot held by Craig Kowalski.
The games first dust up came at 5.11 and saw two players from each side binned, with Devils going on the powerplay as Brock Wilson picked up an extra minor. The closest chance however came shorthanded with Rhett Gordon missing in front from a Danny Meyers feed.
The game calmed down after that with neither team giving much away and although there were a couple of powerplay opportunities to each side the score line remained blank after the opening period.
The pattern of few real chances continued in the second session with Panthers always just having the edge in possession but with Stevie Lyle looking very solid in the Devils net there was no reward for their efforts. Matt Francis did hit the bar early in the period and Jordan Fox went close a couple of times while Scott Dobben almost broke the deadlock for Devils, only to be denied by a smart Craig Kowalski save.
It remained desperately tight in the third period as both teams created and missed a succession of chances. Panthers Guillaume Lepine picked up a 2+10 for checking to the head early on but it was Panthers who always looked that much more dangerous – even shorthanded.
As time ticked on it seemed that overtime was certain but at 52.57 Panthers broke the deadlock when David-Alexandre Beauregard stabbed in a backhand shot from close in to ignite the NIC.
Frantic end to end stuff from then to the end with Devils throwing all they could at the Panthers net but when Lyle was pulled it saw David Clarke skate free and find the empty net with seven seconds remaining to seal Panthers second successive Play-Off win.