The first competitive match of the 2018/19 season occurred tonight as Nottingham Panthers came up against arch rivals Sheffield Steelers in the Challenge Cup.
The campaign has been advertised as the “New Era” for Panthers and on tonight’s showing it was just that. New entrance music, Paws playing on marked up Panthers drum and Thunderstruck by rock gods ACDC blaring out to a chorus of Panthers fans, ready, eager and raring to go.
Michael Garnett started in the net for Panthers, scratched from the line up were Joe Hazledine and Alex Guptill, the latter possibly injured although not confirmed at the time of writing.
The first period started off at a fast pace this something continued throughout the game. In the first 20 minutes Panthers passed the puck beautifully, playing with energy that put the Steelers on the back foot. Steelers were resolute in stopping the Panthers, when raining down on Jackson Whistles net until the end of the 10th minute. The deadlock was broken by Robert Farmer, who stole the puck from the Steelers defence and beat Whistle one on one.
The 2nd period started with intensity albeit slightly subdued to the first. The Steelers pushed Panthers harder in this period and were stopped by an in form Michael Garnett. On 26th minute Mark Hurtubise slotted home for Panthers to make it 2-0. Steelers kept up their intensity despite the score and on the 39th minute Garnett’s goal was breached, when the puck bounced behind on to the backboards and back in play towards Pitt who slotted home for the Steelers.
Panthers were the better side in the third and started with intensity like the first. Tommy Hughes took the puck on the right wing and fired a thunderous shot past Jackson Whistle’s top right corner within 3 minutes of the period.
Jaynen Rissling had been serving a penalty from the 41st minute however, moments after coming out the box, he was set up by Hurtubise and scored after going one on one with Whistle, scoring with a backhand, forehand, backhand move. This making the score 4-1.
At 53 minutes Brett Perlini made it 5-1 while Steelers were serving a penalty. Steelers then scored a consolation goal with 3 minutes to go however it would be just that.
A fantastic win for the Panthers against their nemesis and a fantastic birthday present for Rich Chernomaz on his 55th birthday. Onwards and upwards for Panthers as they start their Elite League campaign against Manchester Storm at home next Saturday.