International Ice Hockey Federation

Panthers to Odense

Panthers to Odense

Nottingham qualifies after winning in Jaca

Published 24.10.2016 10:30 GMT+2 | Author Martin Merk
Panthers to Odense
The Nottingham Panthers pose for a group photo after beating Latvian champion HK Liepaja in the deciding game. Photo: Miguel Ramon Henares
The Nottingham Panthers entered Group B in Jaca as favourites and they ended up as winners. A 28-4 goal record in three games clearly spoke in their favour.

The first game started with a little shocker when Guillermo Betran opened the scoring for the Spanish host CH Jaca against the Panthers but the British turnaround followed a few minutes later and the first period ended with a 6-2 lead for Nottingham, who eventually won the game 13-2. Brad Moran scored two goals and had four points. David Clarke and Robert MacMillan also netted the puck twice in front of 800 spectators at the small rink in the Aragonese city.

The day after the Panthers continued with a 12-1 victory against Zeytinburnu Istanbul after generating 80 shots on goal of the Turkish champion. Nine different players scored for the Englishmen including Alexander Nikiforuk, Matthew Carter and Erik Lindhagen each having a pair of goals.

The last day had to decide about the winner as Latvian champion HK Liepaja started with six points as well beating Zeytinburnu 8-1 and Jaca 10-2. The game was tense and Liepaja had a 38-29 shot-on-goal advantage against Nottingham.

Imants Lescovs opened the scoring from the team of Latvia’s biggest Baltic Sea town but the Panthers bounced back with two goals from Great Britain national team forward David Clarke for a 2-1 lead after the first frame.

“We were a little sloppy in the first 10 minutes but we regrouped,” said head coach Corey Neilson according to the club website and praised the special teams units. “Our PK has been good all year but our power play started to click and find some seams and some holes.”

It was during the second and third period when the Latvian team became stronger offensively but it was fortuneless against the Panthers Finnish-Swedish goalie Miika Wiikman, who made 37 saves for a 97.37 save percentage.

“We should have won this game. We were better, faster, more skilled but didn’t manage to score. We conceded goals due to individual mistakes,” Liepaja’s GM Toms Strauss said.

Matthew Carter made things more difficult for the Latvians when he capitalized with a goal during the Panthers’ only power play of the second period to make it a 3-1 lead with 16 seconds left in the second period. The score remained until the final buzzer.

The Panthers now advance to the next round where they will battle for a spot in the final tournament against Danish host Odense Bulldogs, the Angers Ducs from France and Ukrainian champion HC Donbass from 18 to 20 November.


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