Elite Ice Hockey League: Nottingham Panthers whitewash Scottish sides

Ice hockey GV, Creative Commons
Nottingham Panthers made it a trio of victories in Scotland over consecutive nights in the EIHL.© Patrick Smyth

Braehead Clan, Edinburgh Capitals and Fife Flyers were mauled by the Nottingham Panthers on consecutive nights as the Erhardt Conference side took six points from six on their visit north of the border.

The Flyers were frustrated on the road once more, as Hull Stingrays beat them with the odd goal in nine, while Dundee Stars bounced back from defeat in Cardiff on Thursday to crush the Clan on Sunday.

THURSDAY

Cardiff Devils 4-2 Dundee Stars

Jeff Hutchins' Stars travelled to Cardiff's Big Blue Tent looking for a win away from home to compliment their impressive home form, but having lead 2-0, he saw his side return home with a crushing 4-2 defeat.

Billy Bagron opened the scoring for the Stars after just 37 seconds, stunning the home crowd early in, with the only strike of the opening session. With a powerplay advantage at the start of the second, Pat Bowen doubled the visitors' lead at 22:15, as the Gardiner side looked to end a three game losing streak.

With no further scoring in the middle period, the Devils staged a third session comeback to take all the points, inspired by the free scoring Mac Faulkner. The EIHL top scorer struck twice at 42:40 and 45:58 to haul his side level.

With Nic Riopel in fine form in the Stars net from the start, his D couldn't prove as stubborn in the final five minutes as Max Birbraer found a gap to slot home on 55:36 to snatch the game winning goal.

With Riopel pulled in the dying seconds, Chris Blight completed the comeback, sliding Cardiff's fourth of the night in to the empty net.

FRIDAY

Braehead Clan 1-5 Nottingham Panthers

The Clan's ‘Pink The Rink’ night brought the fans out in force to Braehead Arena, as 2897 supporters turned out for the visit of the Nottingham Panthers. However, despite the fundraising theme of the night, the visitors were in no charitable mood, taking five goals off their hosts in a devastating performance against the pink-clad Clan.

With Clan coach Jordan Krestanovich missing to attend the birth of his newborn son, it was evident that his side missed his leadership on the ice, as Corey Neilson's Panthers raced in to a two goal lead. Matt Francis edged the visitors ahead on 3:37, before netting his seconds at 11:22 on the powerplay.

The game became rather physical with Drew Miller and Guy Lepine brawling towards the end of the first, both men picking up five for fighting in the process.

David Ling made it three and easy for the Panthers early in the second before another powerplay goal, this time from Jordan Fox, put the game out of reach. Pat Galivan completed the five star show just before the midway point at 29:18.

In what was arguably the poorest performance of the season by the Clan, former Panther Jade Galbraith took it upon himself to soften the defeat, firing home on a five on three powerplay, to salvage a consolation for the home side at 37:38.

With no further scoring, the Panthers saw the game out with their four goal lead, ahead of travelling to Edinburgh the next night.

For Clan, it was a disappointing end to a great night, putting a little dampener on the massive crowd, ahead of the charity shirt auction after the game.

SATURDAY

Edinburgh Capitals 0-5 Nottingham Panthers

The Panthers continued where they left off at Braehead on Friday, by putting another five past Scottish opposition for the second night running.

Craig Kowalski in the visitors goal shut out the Capitals, as the Nottingham side proved rampant at Murrayfield.

Matthew Myers got the first of the night at 10:51 to set the Panthers on their way, before Stephen Lee broke from defence to double the lead at 17:01. Eric Werner made it 0-3 in favour of Corey Neilson's side just after half way, as the Capitals failed to muster a response.

Bruce Graham and Matt Francis completed the rout in the third at 56;49 and 58:09, as Scott Neill's side slipped to their second Elite League defeat in successive Sundays to sides from south of the border.

Hull Stingrays 5-4 Fife Flyers

Todd Dutiaume's side gave up a two goal road lead for the second successive Saturday to lose out by the odd goal in nine, continuing their torrid run of away defeats. For the Stingrays, it was a hard earned two points, which showed great character to get themselves level and then ahead to take all the points.

The Flyers had the best of the first period, going in to the interval 3-1 ahead. Two early strikes from coach Dutiaume had the Kirkcaldy side two goals to the good at 2:04 and 6:43. Janis Ozolins halved the deficit at 8:50 for the hosts, but couldn't prevent the Flyers regaining the two goal lead, when Steven Gunn fired past Ben Bowns at 18:02.

Jereme Tendler struck to give the hosts hope at 26:06 before the game was tied at three apiece when Dominic Osman found the net on the powerplay at 35:04. Tendler snatched his second of the night at 40:06, to give the Stingrays the lead for the first time in the match.

Casey Haines levelled for the visitors at 55:55, as the Flyers sensed they had possibly forced over time. However, they were denied the extra point for going to OT when Hull coach Sylvain Cloutier clinched the winner at 56:28.

Undone by throwing away a lead and losing to a late strike, Danny Stewart and Todd Dutiaume will be looking to stop the road rot soon, as it starts to affect their charge for both the Conference and the Cup. For Hull, it was a confidence boosting win over Gardiner Conference rivals, as they look to kick on with their season.

SUNDAY

Fife Flyers 3-5 Nottingham Panthers

The Panthers made it three wins from three in Scotland, as The Flyers fell to five more goals from the Erhardt Conference side, tying up a great weekend for Nottingham in the north. With road legs perhaps showing, they did find themselves behind to the hosts at the end of the first, before pulling on their energy reserves to skate to a 5-3 victory.

Having taken the lead through NHLer Anthony Stewart at 6:47, the Panthers found themselves behind for the first time this weekend, when Kris Hogg and Jamie Wilson beat Kowalski at 8:27 and 17:36 respectively.

Having beaten Sheffield Steelers in similar fashion a few weeks back, things looked up for the Flyers at the end of the first, with just over a minute played in the second, the Panthers levelled through Pat Galivan.

Matt Francis scored for the third consecutive night to push the Panthers ahead at 27:28, and from then in there was no way back for the hosts. In the third period Robert Lachowicz made it 4-2, before Francis hit the Panthers' fifth 72 seconds later.

Hogg was on hand to make the scoreline less emphatic for the visitors, netting for the Kirkcaldy faithful at 59:20. With the 5-3 victory, Nottingham completed a clean sweep in their trip north, dominating Clan, Capitals and Flyers over the three nights.

For Fife, it was a better display than their compatriots had managed, yet results in another dropped two points in the Elite League.

Dundee Stars 5-3 Braehead Clan

The Stars made it seven wins from eight at home for the season with a fine win over Braehead Clan. Former Clansman Mike Wirll was the instigator, kicking off the scoring, as the Stars drew level on points at the top of the Gardiner Conference.

Wirll gave the hosts the lead at 7:46 before Stars captain AJ McLean made it 2-0 on the powerplay at 17:58. The Stars dominated again in the second as Matt Baxter bagged a brace before the half way point in the match, as the Clan failed to bounce back from their Friday night defeat.

Returning to the side after his good news on Friday, Jordan Krestanovich tried to get his side back in to the game, scoring the first of three goals for the visitors in the third period. Clan's opener came at 49:32, before Pat Bowen wrapped up the points for the hosts with a fine strike at 51:21.

Krestanovich scored his second 30 seconds later, before Ash Goldie made it 5-3 at 52:39, with the Clan looking to rally going in to the final minutes. Despite pulling the nettie, Clan couldn't force any further goals, as the Stars held out for a famous win, which puts them level on points with their Conference rivals.

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Elsewhere in the Elite League

Sheffield Steelers travelled to Belfast for a double header against the Giants, winning 5-1 on Friday, before being turned over 3-0 on Saturday in the Odyssey Arena.

Cardiff Devils and Coventry Blaze also played each other twice with the Blaze winning both games, 2-1 at home and then 3-2 in the Big Blue tent.

The second game ended in controversy as after the final buzzer, a huge 100 penalty minutes were awarded to the Blaze for Ben Olsson's ill discipline, receiving five for fighting and a game misconduct for being excessively rough in an on ice incident, Mike Egener and Gerome Giudice also received misconduct penalties for the Blaze.

Devils' Max Birbraer received a match penalty for leaving the dressing room having been ejected from the game for a cross-check to the head, while team mate Devin Didiomete received a fighting five and a game misconduct.

After the match an unsavoury incident broke out when it was alleged that Olsson's had been involved in an altercation with a fan, striking the supporter are being allegedly goaded by the spectator. The Cardiff Devils released a statement saying that they are working with the police to find out the exact cause of the incident to determine what action will be taken.

STANDINGS

Nottinghams' three wins see them soar to the tip of the big league, with Braehead remaining as the best of the Scottish sides in the Elite League, despite their two losses.

Dundee Stars are only a point behind in the EIHL, but have drawn level on points with the Clan at the top of the Gardiner.

Fife's recent dismal run sees them adrift at the bottom of the conference, with still a number of games in hand, the defeat to Hull propelling the Stingrays further away from Edinburgh in third.

The Capitals’ only game of the weekend ended with no points and no goals, but they remain above the Flyers.

Kris Jack is a sports blogger and commentator. You can follow him on Twitter @krisjack85.

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