The Nottingham Panthers came out firing on all cylinders on home ice, leading the game throughout, denying the Belfast Giants a four-point weekend on the road.
The first seven minutes showcased loads of end-to-end hockey, but with minimal stoppages in play to make for a quick start to the game.
The Panthers opened the scoring as Adam Brady put one past Jones with the help of a cross-crease pass from Brett Welychka just eight minutes into the period. (1-0)
The Panthers’ first goal was followed shortly by a two-minute hooking penalty against Giants’ forward Scott Conway. The Panthers capitalised on their powerplay as David Levin found the back of the net with a blocker-side wrist shot from above the hashmarks. (2-0)
Ciaran Long delivered a solid hit which was followed by a bit of scrappiness from Colby McAuley, bringing a bit of life to the Giants’ game. Adding to this was a massive save from netminder Peyton Jones, stopping a 2-on-0 breakaway opportunity.
Under two minutes later the Giants found themselves back on the penalty kill as Darik Angeli sat for a hooking call. Panthers’ Luke Ferrara made it three for his team on the powerplay as the puck snuck through a chaotic crease. (3-0)
The first period didn’t end on a damper though as Scott Conway found a corner to get his 20th domestic goal of the season, assisted by captain David Goodwin and Ciaran Long. (3-1)
A goaltending change started the second for the Belfast Giants as Jackson Whistle made his way between the pipes. The Nottingham Panthers kept the pressure on the away team, eventually leading to a deflected goal from Jordan Kelsall. (4-1)
The Panthers’ Craig Puffer then found himself in the penalty box for tripping, giving the Giants a few great opportunities, which eventually resulted in a Giants goal. Ciaran Long was in the right place at the top of the crease to capitalise on the powerplay. (4-2)
The Panthers took a second penalty in the period following the Giants’ goal which they killed off and came back with heavy pressure in the Giants’ defensive zone. The Giants found themselves fighting to get possession of the puck, and despite a massive effort from Jackson Whistle to make a diving save, the Panthers got a fifth goal. (5-2)
There were end-to-end chances and big saves from both Jackson Whistle and opposing netminder Jack Berry. Back-to-back penalties for the Panthers (delay of game and cross-checking) sent the Giants onto a 5-on-3 powerplay but they were unsuccessful.
The second ended with a defensive effort from Will Cullen to keep the puck on the right side of the goal line. The attempt did go under review but was confirmed no-goal.
There was a lot more fire from the Belfast Giants in the third. After a relatively quiet first half of the period, captain David Goodwin tipped in a shot from defenseman Matt Foley. (5-3)
This was followed quickly by a goal from forward Colby McAuley, assisted once again from the blue line, this time from Sam Ruopp. (5-4)
The two quick goals lead to a Panthers time out, however Keefe’s Belfast Giants kept their foot on the gas pedal. The Giants put heavy pressure on the opposition but ran into a hot Jack Berry who denied them from getting the equaliser.
Final Score: Nottingham Panther 5 – 4 Belfast Giants
The Stena Line Belfast Giants are on the road for the remainder of the month, taking on the Sheffield Steelers in a double-header next weekend on the 19 and 20 of November. They return home for more Viaplay Elite Ice Hockey League action vs Manchester Storm on 3 December. Tickets are on sale HERE!