Panthers 4 Devils 5 (Panthers win 8-7 on aggregate)

Does this club know how to put us through the mill or what? Why do it the easy way when you can make it difficult, I chewed my finger nails down to the first knuckle last night! Still, what a game we were treated to last night, fair play to Cardiff for coming and giving it a real go, they must be gutted today.
Panthers could have made it so much easier on themselves from the start, Jade Galbraith producing a wonderful reaction save from Stevie Lyle in the first few seconds. Panthers continued to press and went close twice more, before the Devils broke away and Tylor Michel smashed a shot past KSP to bring the Devils right back in it. Controversial incident of the night #1 came with Panthers on the penalty kill. A Cardiff player (didn’t get the number) had the puck caught between his skates when Cameron Mann hustled him off the puck and skated one on one on Lyle and slotted the puck home. Inexplicably referee Moray Hanson saw it as hooking and sent Mann to the box with the arena drowned out in a chorus of boos aimed at the referee, to leave Panthers on a two man kill for 1.50 which thankfully we saw off. However Devils levelled the tie on aggregate when a soft looking Wes Jarvis shot deflected off KSP’s stick and over his shoulder into the net, which left the Panthers netminder looking crestfallen. Thankfully a two man advantage gave Panthers the aggregate lead back, Corey Neilson smashing a one time shot through Lyle’s five hole to make the aggregate score 5-4 in Panthers favour at the first interval.
Controversial incident #2 came early in the second period. Jay Latulippe didn’t come out of the zone from a previous attack, but received the puck was waved onside, his pass found Max Birbraer who scored at the back post. From my point of view this was a horrendous mistake by the linesman and if the Devils had won the cup I’m sure they’d have been much protesting from the Panthers faithful. Instead of heads dropping, this sparked Panthers into life. Marty Gascon put Panthers ahead again on aggregate with a quite astonishing goal, flipping the puck on net while on the floor, it really does have to be seen to be believed, thankfully the BBC were good enough to put game highlights on their website here and the goal is around 1.05. Better was to follow as less than two minutes later Panthers drew level on the night and restored their two goal aggregate lead, Marc Levers shrugging off two Cardiff defencemen to backhand the puck past Lyle into the roof of the net. The NIC crowd went into meltdown as a further two minutes later David Clarke put Panthers 3 goals ahead on aggregate, backhanding a shot into an empty net with Lyle nowhere. So that was game, set, match then, surely the Devils couldn’t come back from that? Well, yes they could! Max Birbraer got his second of the night from close in and it was 4-4 on the night as the second period ended.
Into the third and Panthers kept the Devils at bay for the most part and the contest was becoming scrappy. Panthers were happy to protect the lead and Devils couldn’t find a way through, until five minutes from time when Mark Smith produced a beautiful finish to cut Panthers aggregate lead to one, squeaky bum time and make no mistake! Despite intense pressure and lifting Lyle, Panthers held on to win the cup, and the relief was projected in the celebrations at the end. I truly believe that our excellent performance in Cardiff won us the trophy, luckily Cardiff’s performance last night while excellent, wasn’t quite excellent enough. Fair play to them though, they came and really gave it a go and they fully deserved the loud ovation they got as they left the ice.
I leave the final word to Danny Meyers, lets hope we see another couple of pictures like the one below this season, because as far as I’m concerned there’s nothing better than a trophy with black & gold ribbons on it.

1 Response to “Panthers 4 Devils 5 (Panthers win 8-7 on aggregate)”

  1. 1 Killamarsh Steeler March 11, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Congrats to Panthers, but don’t count your play-off chickens just yet.

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