Mixed-Up Weekend!

A review of the Panthers games this weekend.

First of all I’ll start with Cardiff last night. Not good, not good at all. In fact the best thing I can do is direct you to Cardiff fan Finny’s post on The Inferno about the game, as it is pretty much spot on. The only things I will disagree with Finny on is it was Jade Galbraith who threw the fabulous mid-ice check on Matt Towe, and I thought KSP couldn’t be held accountable for our loss. 
To be fair, KSP stopped the scoreline being much worse than the 6-2 final score. We gift wrapped two points to them by pushing the self destruct button after an excellent opening ten minutes. However Cardiff took their chances with aplomb, played like a team unit and fully deserved their win. For us Corey Neilson and Marty Gascon were both guilty of horrendous mistakes which lead to Devils goals, while two of the goals were scored on 5 on 3 opportunities due to poor discipline on our part. The only positives I can take from the performance were the previously mentioned hit by Galbraith and David Clarke’s excellent powerplay strike for our second goal. Overall though it was a night to forget in South Wales.

After such a drubbing last night I was expecting similar from Coventry this afternoon, especially after Coventry would be full of confidence after their convincing win last week. My fears were not settled when the Blaze took the lead through Cowley against the run of play, however although Panthers were creating chances, they were having difficulty putting them away. Panthers did level the tie through Nick Toneys, but the period shots of 19-11 tell you that Panthers should have made their territorial dominance pay dividends. Another incident of note was a fight between Dominic D’Amour and Jason Robinson. Rumours were surfacing that Robinson had broke D’Amour’s nose, but there was no blood and D’Amour continued the rest of the game without a face mask.
The second was end to end, and over quite quickly as there were long periods of play without a whistle, however Panthers had KSP to thank for keeping them in the game after he stopped two one on one breakaway’s.
The breakthrough finally came in the 3rd. Hirsch had made good saves from Gascon and Galbraith earlier in the period, but he could do nothing about the game winning goal as Bergin faked the shot before passing to Gascon who made no mistake, a really excellent goal. Blaze lifted Hirsch for the extra skater, and McAslan made the game safe by scoring into the empty net for a 3-1 victory.
This was a much needed Panthers win after the recent defeats, and it also comes with the bonus of qualification for the Challenge Cup Semi-Finals. Gascon got the man of the match, but my choice would have been KSP who was superb tonight. Hopefully the defeats will be a blip, and we can pick up league points next weekend, however it is worth noting that our opponents on Saturday, Belfast, have scored 17 goals in two games this weekend. Testing times ahead!

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