Stingrays 2 Panthers 4

Panthers went into this game at full strength while Hull were without injured Lee Mitchell, Jeff Glowa & Ryan Jorde, and the suspended Curtis Huppe & Adam Knight. With Panthers also high on confidence after beating Sheffield on Saturday night, you would expect that this game would be won at a canter. Well, you’d be wrong!

Panthers dominated the first, out-shooting the hosts 18-8 and hitting the bar twice, however Tommy Sandahl in the Rays net was in excellent form. It was Hull who took the lead late in the first as Kalmikov got the last touch to beat KSP. The second continued in a similar vein to the first, Panthers were still outshooting the Rays, but the hosts defence were restricting the Panthers to long shots. The equaliser finally came on the powerplay, David Clarke converting from the blue line. Clarke was on hand again as Panthers took the lead on a 5 on 3 powerplay towards the end of the period, and the visitors went into the final break with a 2-1 lead.

With only 11 skaters we expected the tiring Stingrays to capitulate in the 3rd, but it didn’t happen. Showing a great battling spirit they managed to equalise on their own 5 on 3 chance, Player/Coach Sylvain Cloutier scoring the goal. At this point, past Panthers teams would have capitulated. Not this one! The go ahead goal was a prime example of why every team needs a Bruce Richardson, not giving up on an iced puck, Bruce got to the puck first and pulled it back for Kevin Bergin to open his account for the season. The sheer determination and will to win of Bruce never ceases to amaze me. His infectious desire is quite obviously rubbing off on his team mates. As the clock ticked down, the Rays lifted Sandahl for the extra attacker, but while Clarke missed a glorious chance for his hat-trick, Sean McAslan made no mistake to seal a 4-2 win and 2 more Challenge Cup points.

This wasn’t the best game or best performance, but it was a win and that’s all that really matters. With another 100% weekend, Panthers are playing .875 hockey, I’ll take that for the rest of the season.

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