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12th September 2007
|Referee: M Hanson|
|Match complete||Nottingham Panthers|
|0 : 2 : 2 = 4||Goals||1 : 0 : 1 = 2|
|10 : 10 : 7 = 27||Shots||20 : 16 : 10 = 46|
|9 : 13 : 0 = 22||Penalties in Minutes||17 : 5 : 0 = 22|
Sheffield Steelers 4-2 Nottingham Panthers
Sheffield without Rod Sarich and Jeff Legue, welcome back Shane Johnson and dress youngsters Matt Dowd and Ben Morgan.
4103 saw the home side come from behind to win comfortably in the end, thanks to an amazing display from Jody Lehman as Panthers ran riot in the opening session. But only Matt Myers could find the net (18:45), crashing home a rebound from Corey Neilson's shot, and ultimately the visitors ran out of gas. Sheffield turned the game round when Ryan Finnerty burst up the right to scram shot into the far top corner (26:21) and Ashley Tait boke up the middle and had time to wait for keeper Rastislav Rovnianek to committ himself before lifting the puck home high (31:50). Tait fired home from the right (46:52) to double the lead and although Sean McAslan hit the bar it was Joey Talbot who found the net (55:38) to kill the game. Neilson wrapped up the scoring after a mazey skate (57:10).
With Sky Sports filming this one fight fans will be able to see two big toe-to-toe encounters, Steve Munn and McAslan getting fighting majors each late in the first period with Jeremy Cornish and Ryan Shmyr doing likewise 15 minutes later.
This game started at a ferocious pace as Panthers sought to extract maximum advantage from Sheffield's injury concerns. McAslan (twice), Jim Shepherd (twice), Myers and Neilson all tested Lehman in the opening few minutes with Ashley Tait and Doug Sheppard trying their luck at the other end.
Johan Molin cleverly waited for the keeper to be unsighted before forcing a good stop and Nottingham had the momentum. Sheffield exerted pressure but were unable to test Rovnianek as Danny Meyers sat a hooking penalty. Then Panthers went on the powerplay as Mark Thomas took a boarding penalty. Panthers pressed without forcing a save, but Jonathan Phillips slashing penalty gave them a full 60 seconds of 5 on 3 advantage. Patrik Wallenburg camped near Lehman's left post and he, McAslan and Neilson all had shots turned aside before Thomas returned. Still Panthers pressed and Lehman had to make a double stop from PC Drouin and Wallenburg before the home side returned to full strength.
But it was seemingly all one way now as Mark Richardson, Marc Levers and Myers all were denied. Then McAslan and Munn clashed off the play and both dropped the gloves for majors. Drouin unwisely talked his way to a 10 minute misconduct before play resumed. But within a minute Panthers were ahead. Levers beat Jason Hewitt on the draw, Neilson fired in and Myers put away the rebound.
All change in the second period as Sheffield started faster. Ian Mazanao was foiled twice but then took a hooking penalty which gave McAslan a chance to test Lehman from the right. Sheffield again found themselves 3-on-5 as Talbot was assessed a diving penalty as he skated through centre ice but only Neilson could test Lehman.
Steelers killed that one, and with ref Moray Hanson's arm raised for a diving penalty to McAslan, Finnerty burst up the right boards to fire Sheffield level.
Molin had two chances to restore the lead from the right wing, the second chance coming with Wallenburg inside waiting for the pass, but each time Lehman stood tall.
Phillips was back in the box, this time for hooking and Lehman was busy again. But only after Molin collided with the goal frame and left the ice for stitches. McAslan forced another save and Lehman stacked the pads to keep out Myers at his near post, then Drouin's menacing shot flashed just wide. But as the home side returned to full strength Sheppard's pass released Ashley Tait up the middle to edge Steelers ahead.
Within a minute Cornish and Shmyr dropped the gloves for more fighting majors, but out on the ice the momentum was noticeably now with Sheffield. Indeed Nottingham struggled to force a save when Manzano took a tripping penalty.
The pace had visibly dropped early in the final session and Steelers took full advantage of tiring legs. Talbot kept the puck in the zone, Sheppard flicked the puck inside to Ashley Tait and, although his first effort was blocked, his second beat Rovnianek.
With 10 minutes remaining Molin went up the right and dropped the puck inside for Wallenburg. He intelligently eased into a position which left the goalie screened, but his shot pinged off the top of the bar. McAslan and Shepherd forced further saves from acute angles but the home side's non-stop skating reaped dividends again at the other end. Sheppard and Ashley Tait combined behind the net and from Tait's pass out Munn tried to pick out Talbot on the right. Stancok intercepted but Talbot was first to the loose puck to fire home.
Neilson skated from his own end to fire home low across Lehman to give Panthers hope but Panthers never looked like getting closer.
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