A Reason to be Cheerful

Cat’s Whiskers TV’s Jono Bullard pays tribute to Nottingham Panthers on reaching their fifth consecutive Challenge Cup Final.

In what hasn’t been the best of seasons for the Nottingham Panthers, there is now something to celebrate and be proud of. Once again the Panthers find themselves in the Challenge Cup Final for the fifth consecutive year, and you don’t need me to tell you that we’ve won the previous four.

This is a level of consistency that is unsurpassed in the modern era of British Hockey. I’ve looked at records going back to Panthers reformation in 1980, no other team in the top flight has managed to reach five consecutive cup finals in the same competition. In fact from looking at records the only other team that has managed this feat are the Murrayfield Racers, who reached five consecutive play-off finals between 1969 & 1973, winning four of them.

This is an astonishing record, especially when you consider the level of competition we have faced in order to reach those finals (and subsequently win them). Only last year can we truly say we were the best team in the league. All the previous finals, or paths to them, we had to face the best and win. This season is no exception and will perhaps be the toughest defence of the Challenge Cup as the Elite League champions Belfast Giants await in the final.

The Giants have been nothing short of magnificent this season, dominating the league to win a full five weeks before the end of the regular season. Panthers will require a Herculean effort and no shortage of luck in order to retain the trophy against the champions, especially when you consider the way in which the Giants dominated Panthers over two games this past weekend.

However, Corey Neilson’s team do tend to find an extra level when a trophy is on the line so I would expect a much improved performance in the final games than what we saw at the weekend, but I have to say that this is the least confident I’ve been going into a CC final. The Giants are an excellent side and will be massive favourites to win the trophy.

Despite that, this shouldn’t take away from Panthers achievement. It’s not been a vintage season for sure but it’s nice to find a genuine positive to come out of it. I’m no mathematician but I do know that reaching a cup final for five consecutive years would have very long odds, and for that Corey Neilson deserves an immense amount of credit.

1 Response to “A Reason to be Cheerful”

  1. 1 Paul Henson February 20, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Once again Jono, an amazing write up of which every fan, player and management will 100% agree with.
    Well done Corey!
    Good luck team…

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