HULL Stingrays suffered a third-period collapse as they slipped to their heaviest defeat of the season in a 9-3 loss to Elite League title contenders Nottingham Panthers.
Despite being heavily outshot, Sylvain Cloutier’s under-strength team had managed to go in tied at 3-3 at the end of the second period before the floodgates opened in the final session with six goals getting past netminder Christian Boucher.
Hull - boosted by the return of forward Tristan Harper but still missing key defenceman and captain Kurtis Dulle as well as British forward Matty Davies through injury - had taken the lead at 6.52 through Jason Silverthorn before Jeff Heerema levelled on the powerplay for the second-placed visitors within two minutes.
David-Alexandre Beauregard edged Panthers ahead at 27.11 before Heerema’s second of the night seven minutes later made it 3-1 to Corey Neilson’s side.
But Hull rallied quickly with Dominic Osman making it a one-goal game at 35.02 before 16-year-old Bobby Chamberlain levelled with his first-ever Elite League goal with less than minute of the second period remaining.
But just over five minutes into the third and all of the momentum built by Hull towards the end of the previous period was lost as goals from David Clarke, Robert Lachowicz and Marc Levers put the Panthers well clear.
Further goals in the last five minutes from Stephen Lee, Jordan Fox and Lachowicz put the result beyond doubt making it a bumper festive period for the visitors following their two wins over title rivals Sheffield Steelers.
The Steelers now trail Nottingham by eight points, but have six games in hand the first of those coming at home against Coventry Blaze on Sunday (face-off 5pm).
Player-coach Ryan Finnerty, who missed Tuesday night’s 5-1 defeat in Nottingham due to injury, is hopeful of making a return to the ice against Paul Thompson’s side, who saw their seven-game winning streak ended at Hull in a 3-2 defeat on Wednesday night.
“I’m hoping to skate tomorrow (Friday)and be in the line up for the game against the Blaze, that’s my target,” said Finnerty. “We have enough bodies though and I won’t play unless I’m fit and playing well enough to contribute. Anything else would be selfish and there isn’t room for that.”
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SHEFFIELD Steeldogs head into Friday night’s home clash with Peterborough Phantoms knowing only a win will take them throguh to the last four of the English Premier League Cup.
Andre Payette’s side lost out 5-4 after a penalty shoot-out to Manchester Phoenix on Tuesday night.
The match, which starts at Ice Sheffield at 7.45pm, will also double up as a league match with the Steeldogs’ one point from their trip to Manchester earlier in the week seeing them sit fourth in the table, ahead of Tony Hand’s team on goal difference.
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