Panthers 5 Devils 0

Here we are on the cusp of 2010 and Panthers are still in the hunt for the title. Who’d have thunk it! We stayed in the hunt thanks to a comprehensive brushing aside of a Cardiff team that are superb at home but get incredibly travel sick away from the big blue tent.
Having said that the first period was a bit of a non-event, with the visitors probably shading it, out-shooting Panthers 10-7. The Devils were employing the dreaded trap system which Panthers found difficult to break down. Having said that I’m at a loss to remember a difficult save that either netminder had to make in the first. The only other notable part of the period was referee Mike Hicks wearing a camera on his helmet for some reason. Either that or he’s been assimilated into the Borg collective, resistance is futile from crap officiating!
The second period was a different story from a Panthers point of view. Cameron Mann gave the home side the lead, whipping a rebound past Stevie Lyle in the Devils net. Just over a minute later it was 2-0, Corey Neilson hitting the target with a long range shot that Lyle perhaps should have done better with. The game started to open up as the Devils chased the game. A giveaway by Dominic D’Amour allowed Matt Towe to skate in alone on KSP, who looked beaten until his right pad raised up to flick the goal bound puck over the bar, a quite incredible save. The Devils would rue that, as Mann made it 3-0 with a lovely finish into the top corner then just 26 seconds later he made it 4-0, completing his hat-trick by passing the puck by Lyle into the corner.
In the third Panthers were happy to sit back and protect the lead, however Jade Galbraith was benched for the entire period after a show of petulance when finishing a shift in the second, breaking his stick and storming down the tunnel! Both sides had chances, but it took until the final few seconds before Panthers made it 5-0, Marc Levers taking a great pass from David Clarke before skating in and having Lyle’s pants down before finishing on the backhand.
A pleasing performance, great to see KSP finally get a deserved shut-out and Cameron Mann is now showing us why he played 91 times in the NHL. However, games against Hull & Edinburgh follow at the weekend, we cannot afford to relax against these teams, four more points is essential if we are to keep challenging. The Devils plight seems more worrying. I was at the game where they destroyed us 6-2 in Cardiff earlier this season. In that match, Brad Voth was immense, in the three games at the NIC this season I’ve hardly noticed him. For such an important player in the Devils team, that has to be a worry for them. Gerard Adams has a lot of thinking to do!

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