MANCHESTER STORM 2 NOTTINGHAM PANTHERS 5
Sunday was the first of three ‘retro nights’ that the Storm were celebrating over this festive period and they opened it up with the visit of the Nottingham Panthers to the Altrincham Ice rink.
Manchester fans were hoping that this retro night could help rekindle some of that old magic of yesteryear for this new Storm, however it still couldn’t prevent the Storm slipping to a fourth successive defeat and saw them go to the foot of the Elite League table with a 5-2 loss to Nottingham.
Former Manchester Storm original Alan Hough was special guest, as the player that wore the Storm shirt in the inaugural season back in 1995, saw him being doing the ceremonial puck drop to mark Retro night and also saw the Storm donning the Infamous Black mask shirts from their B&H Cup success back in 1999.
It seemed at first that the nostalgia of retro night was rubbing off on the side after the Storm took the early lead at 2:01 in the game, after a shot by Matt Caria was turned away by Dan Green and had the puck bounce nicely for Grant Toulmin off the boards, and that saw the forward making a nice little backhanded pass towards the front of the net for player-coach Omar Pacha to tuck away for the opener.
The game was feisty at times and that was evident after Paul Phillips shot the puck after the whistle on an offside call and that saw Steven Lee taking exception and with a scrum taking place between the two teams, both players then dropped the gloves and saw Lee getting the better of the short fisticuffs.
At 6.09, the Panthers then tied the game up through returnee to the Lace City in Chris Lawrence, when the Toronto-native carved his way through the home sides defence with ease before slotting it past Zane Kalemba and had the netminder confronting David Ling after the play and another scrum ensued between the sides.
Nottingham then went 2-1 up at 12:25 gone in the period, as sloppy play by the hosts saw Evan Mosey starting an attack for the Panthers, with David Ling taking a pass and finding a perfect pass for Chris Lawrence to launch a one timer into the open side of the net and have the travelling fans back on their feet.
Manchester battled their way back and got it back to 2-2 through Paul Phillips, as his low effort was blocked by team mate Grant Toulmin at front of the net and with Toulmin once again making a nuisance of himself at the net it saw him making another little behind the back pass to Phillips and he swept it home.
In the Second frame the Panthers scored an early goal that came on a powerplay by David Clarke, as the GB International gave them a 3-2 lead and from that point onwards the game started to get away from the Storm in truth and the Panthers put on a strong performance.
Some slick passing by Nottingham namely by Robert Farmer and Steven Lee ended up with Lee passing it back for Clarke, and he had plenty of time to pick his spot and fired top shelf for the go ahead goal at 23.04.
Bryan Schmidt and Patrik Valcak then exchanged punches instead of Christmas cards at 26:28, with the Manchester man getting the better of the scrap and had both men receiving five minutes for fighting and picking additional penalties for respective Interference and Unsportsmanlike Conduct calls during the event.
More rough stuff came in the shape of local lad Paul Swindlehurst, as the Bolton-born defenceman picked up a penalty behind the play after he pinned Paul Phillips by the boards and saw him being a bit too aggressive for the match official liking and seen him sitting for Interference.
The final period saw the title challenging East Midlands outfit having a mixture of bad luck and good luck mixed into the final twenty minutes of the game, with the Panthers attackers striking the pipework on three separate occasions and saw the Storm’s goal living a charmed life.
Firstly Juraj Kolnik struck the post for the away side, as his wrist shot rang off the metal, then it Logan Macmillian turn to see his effort pinging off the other goal post and away and some may have thought that these chances may be a sign that the home side would come back to haunt the Panthers with these missed chances.
Sadly that was not to be, as Evan Mosey then became the third Nottingham man to hit the pipework and with play predominately in the Storm zone it was only a matter of time before the puck would eventually find twine and it soon did. Some great play and vision by David Clarke saw him playing the puck across goal and had Matthew Myers at the front of the net to turn goal wards as he fell over at 51:00, as he helped the visitors double their advantage with a 4-2 scoreline.
When luck isn’t on your side, you tend to concede goals that don’t normally occur in game and so the fifth goal for Nottingham could be used as an example just for that or put down to a lapse in concentration by the Storm netminder.
Either way it saw Robert Farmer starting the move and finishing it in slightly farcical style, as Farmer shot the puck round the boards and with no danger to speak for the netminder to deal with, his lazy attempt to stop the puck behind his own goals, saw it bounce straight out in front of the net and towards the oncoming Matthew Myers.
Myers then played it out towards the front of an empty net and to where Farmer managed to control it with his skates before back handing it into an relatively open net for 5-2 and seal the victory for the away side.
A disappointed Manchester Player-Coach Omar Pacha told Storm TV after the game “ I thought we started off really strong and a good opening few minutes, we then got a lucky bounce to get the lead”. “I thought we competed really well in the first two periods and i know were down one, but i still thought we were competing very well and working hard”.
When asked about him in recent weeks wanting 60 minutes from his players, he responded “ Yeah, i thought yesterday we competed hard for 60 minutes and tonight i thought we played for 60 minutes”. “It`s just we’re in a hole, we’re not getting the bounces, we’re playing a good portion of the game and then we are making some mistakes that need to be corrected at this time”.
Manchester never came close to causing any problems at all on Dan Green in the Nottingham goals and saw a very impressive period by Corey Neilson’s men, as they cut the gap down to just three points on the leaders Cardiff and having two games in hand on the South Wales side.
For Storm it was pretty much a game that saw them playing second fiddle for the final two periods again to their opponents and Omar Pacha will be hoping that guys over this Christmas week recover and try to regroup and give their fans some long awaited festive cheer, as they have looked far from the side that started the season off.