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|Challenge Cup Group B|
3rd November 2006
|Referee: N Boniface|
|Match complete||Nottingham Panthers|
|1 : 2 : 0 = 3||Goals||0 : 1 : 1 = 2|
|9 : 11 : 6 = 26||Shots||8 : 11 : 15 = 34|
|4 : 4 : 4 = 12||Penalties in Minutes||6 : 2 : 6 = 14|
Sheffield Steelers 3-2 Nottingham Panthers
Sheffield missing Brett Clouthier (1st game of 2 match suspension), adding youngsters Matt Towe and Robert Dowd. Nottingham icing coach Mike Ellis in place of the injured Sean McAslan.
5524 saw Sheffield take a slender lead into tomorrow night's second leg after Matus Petricko deflected Danny Myers speculative shot from the right point with 7 minutes remaining (52:50). Sheffield had twice taken a 2 goal lead, Maltby burying the loose puck on Steelers' second powerplay of the night (11:58), and Jonathan Phillips blasting home from the right wing (20:40). Jan Krajicek got Panthers on the board with a rocket from the right point (23:45) but Shaun Sutter buried a rebound off the back boards (29:24) to restore the lead. Both Panthers' goals were scored on the powerplay.
This first meeting of these bitter rivals in Sheffield this season wasn't quite at the usual levels of intensity, possibly because this match was only the first half of the tie.
The game started 18 minutes late after heavy traffic on the M1 delayed the arrival of the visitors and many fans and just 13 seconds in Panthers were killing an interference penalty on Krajicek. But only Rod Sarich and Phillips forced Evan Lindsay into action. In the fourth minute Shawn Maltby fed the puck out to Phillips 8 feet out, but he shot wide. Panthers finally tested Jody Lehman when Ellis shot from the blue line 6 minutes in, collecting his own rebound close-in, but he was forced wide and in the ensuing play Dan Tessier took a holding penalty.
Lehman wasn't tested during that poweplay and only had one routine save to make from Corey Neilson when Phillips sat a hooking penalty on 9 minutes. His defence blocked 2 more efforts and 3 shots went wide.
Steve Simoes' effort from low on the left was padded out, but as Sheffield looked to counter Paul Moran took an unnecessary interference penalty and that was to open the door for the home side. Sarich shot from the blueline with Sutter on the doorstep. Lindsay made the stop but Maltby netted from close-in.
Matt Myers responded with a crisp first-time shot but with Simoes taking a charging penalty, any momentum was lost. The home side failed to test Lindsay until Simoes returned, Phil Hill shooting from distance but the visitors countered quickly and Lehman did well to smother David Clarke's fierce right wing shot.
Three minutes before the break a quick pass out front gave Hill a glorious chance to score, but Lindsay made the save and Tessier couldn't force home the rebound.
There seemed little danger when Phillips burst down the right early in the second but his shot across the keeper was good enough and Sheffield were looking comfortable.
Panthers upped their game and Warren Tait took an interference penalty. Neilson's left wing shot deflected to Lehman safely and from the face-off Rees' effort was turned aside. Sheffield countered with Tessier trying his luck from wide on the right but Panthers made their pressure count. Myers won his face-off on the right and Krajicek scored with a bullet from the point.
Sutter tried a wrap-around at the left post and Lindsay lost his stick but his defence covered. Ian Manzano shot from the point but a minute later Petricko latched onto a long pass and burst through. His backhand from the right was padded aside and the defence tidied up. Nottingham had an even better chance when a pass from behind the net found Rod Stevens in acres of space out front, but Lehman turned his first-time effort aside.
How Panthers paid for that miss as Hill's shot from distance cannoned off the back boards and Sutter was on hand to squeeze the puck home from the right.
Seconds later Krajicek's interference penalty was exploited by Sheffield, only Sarich testing Lindsay and instead Lehman found himself saving from Meyers and Clarke.
Back at even strength Sutter forced stops from both wings and Maltby chased a long pass but his crisp shot was easily saved.
Both sides were struggling to produce penetrative shots with Petricko and Simoes firing wide.
With Mark Thomas sitting a roughing minor, Panthers ended the period on the powerplay but only Neilson and Meyers forced saves.
Seconds into the final session a scramble at the Sheffield net led to Ryan Shmyr sitting a slashing minor. Sheffield failed to exert any pressure on the powerplay. Myers' hooking penalty 4 minutes in saw Tessier find Sutter in a great position, but he mis-hit badly and the shot trickled to Lindsay.
Back at full strength, Simoes fired in from the left and with Myers driving the net for the rebound, Manzano cross-checked the Welshman. Blaz Emersic and Krajicek both forced saves, but Stevens had a glorious chance late on the powerplay only to be blanked and the puck was scrambled to safety.
James Cooke's interference penalty again found Lindsay not having to make a single save and one Ellis chance aside, the same appeared to be true when Ben Gustvason took a hooking penalty. But 1 second before the penalty expired, Meyers kept the puck in at the right boards with a speculative shot through a crowd of bodies and in it went, with a telling touch from Petricko.
Two shots from Krajicek aside, the visitors failed to turn their huff and puff into chances and with Tessier and Phillips both failing to stretch Lindsay, there was no further score.
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