Manchester Storm 2 – 4 Nottingham Panthers
Two powerplay goals in the third helped steer the Nottingham Panthers to a victory over the Manchester Storm on Sunday night as they beat the Altrincham side 4-2 with two strikes by Stephen Schultz proving the difference in the Elite League encounter.
After the 4-0 hammering the Storm suffered at hand of their opponents the night before at the NIC (National Ice Centre) it saw the visitors looking to carry on their form from where they had left off on the Saturday game. Nottingham looked much the brighter team in the opening exchanges of the game and had the home side struggling to even register a shot on target in the early minutes of the game as the Panthers had Manchester of the back foot from the off.
With the hosts being outplayed at the start it saw the Panthers taking a well deserved lead in the game at 3:22 as David Ling netted to put the visitors ahead in the game after the Storm failed to clear their lines. The opening goal all came from Panthers pressure as they played it around the front of the Storm goal and with Zane Kalemba already down and committed to previous save that allowed Ling who was unmarked to take a touch and fire into mostly a gaping net and have the ‘Panthers Nation’ up on their feet early.
With Nottingham playing some good hockey in the period and looking to be complete control of the game it needed the home side to respond quickly and the Storm were happy to obliged. As a a breakout pass by Vinny Scarsella saw Grant Toulmin bustling his way through the Nottingham defence and after his effort was blocked Matt Caria was quick to gaining possession of the puck and skated round the net before lifting it over Shane Madolora in the visitors net to see a 1-1 game at 9:15.
Storm then took the lead late on in the period through a powerplay strike by Matt Sisca as his low drive on goal took a big deflection at the front of the net and ended up nestling in the bottom corner. Arguably Nottingham were the better side in the period and their coach Corey Neilson must have been thinking how they were behind going in at the break at 2-1 down. In the second period the Storm looked a lot better and almost increased their lead with a quick one time shot by Patrik Valcak but the Panthers netminder in Madolora denied the Czech forward with a good save to keep the score as it was.
The home side had a couple of powerplays coming their way one after another and when Matt Caria tried to force his way round the back of the Nottingham defence it saw him being upended by Paul Swindlehurst, which led to another man advantage for Manchester. Sadly much like the game against Belfast earlier in the week, the Storm were unable to even get into a position to shoot and saw the Panthers killing the penalty off successfully.
At 34:04 Nottingham got back on level terms thanks to Stephen Schultz after some brilliant work by the Panthers duo of firstly Paul Swindlehurst saw him keeping the puck in the zone and shooting it round the boards, before David Ling then turned Devin Didiomete inside out behind the Manchester net and made a pass out towards the back door for Schultz who on the second attempt made it a 2-2 game.
Third period saw a slightly tactical game being played out by both hockey sides, as neither wanted to concede as we approached the business end of the game. Mike Folkes was then called for hooking on a Nottingham player and from that penalty came the go ahead goal for the away side as Schultz blasted a one time shot past Kalemba from a David Clarke pass to see the Panthers move 3-2 up at 46:13.
Manchester fans then had their collective hearts in their mouths a bit later on, after Vinny Scarsella took a heavy hit and saw him hitting the the Ice and staying down before being helped up and led back to the locker room where the American would rejoin the action a little bit later on the game but was in lot of discomfort.
A call against Paul Phillips for an accidental high stick saw the Storm man catching his opponent in the face with his stick right in front of the referee and that led to another powerplay chance for the Panthers. Matthew Myers then put the game to bed for the visitors with over two minutes of the contest left to go, as Myers tucked home from close range to see the Nottingham side going 4-2 up and end all hopes of a comeback for the home team.