FORGET the rest of the weekend, only one result stood out in the latest round of Elite League fixtures – Hull Stingrays’ 6-1 thrashing of Nottingham Panthers at the National Ice Centre.
They may not have been able to follow it up with a win at home to Braehead Clan last night – going down 2-0 to their Gardiner Conference rivals – but that still will not take anything away from a breathtaking result for player-coach Omar Pacha’s thinly-stretched team. It was their first in Nottingham since December 2010 when previous player-coach Sylvain Cloutier led his team to a 5-4 victory after a shoot-out.
It may still prove to be a difficult season for Pacha’s young, relatively inexperienced team – as predicted by many – but signs of promise in the previous weekend’s 3-2 home defeat to defending league champions Belfast Giants proved reliable indicators as they flattened Corey Neilson’s team.
Hull’s loyal band of followers will have been pinching themselves, particulary when their side went in at the end of the second period 4-0 ahead thanks to two goals apiece from Eric Galbraith and Cory Tanaka.
Zach Hervato made it 5-0 with his fourth of the season at 46.35 and while Nottingham eventually got on the scoresheet through Bruce Graham’s 50th-minute powerplay strike, Tanaka was able to complete his hat-trick and a memorable night for the visitors when he scored short-handed just over three minutes later.
“It was a great team effort,” said Pacha, who is still sidelined with a broken arm. “We competed very well and we were clinical with our chances.
“We outworked them and outplayed them. Nottingham have a good team and this is a difficult place to play so I am really happy.
“I want to win every game whether it is against Nottingham or any other team and the good thing is there are still areas where we can improve.”
Last night on home ice, Hull found themselves stifled by a hard-working Braehead team, who took both points back to Scotland courtesy of goals from Scott Pitt (14.27) and Zach Sullivan (38.18).
Sheffield Steelers enjoyed mixed fortunes in back-to-back Challenge Cup fixtures, first losing out to Cardiff Devils 3-2 after a shoot-out before winning 3-2 in overtime at Coventry Blaze.
In an entertaining game at the Motorpoint Arena – preceded by the traditional banner-raising ceremony to mark last season’s play-off triumph – Steelers could count themselves unlucky not to come away with both points.
They deservedly went ahead on the powerplay at 24.14 when Darrell Hay finished off a move he had started inside his own blue line with just one second of Matt Myers’s interference penalty left.
Cardiff drew level through Myers just over two minutes later before the Steelers went ahead again with a second powerplay strike, from Mike Forney.
The home side, however, had to wait more than two minutes for it to be confirmed because no light went on behind the goal. But, on the next break in play and after consultation with fellow officials, referee Tom Darnell awarded the goal on review, to Cardiff’s dismay.
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A late Gord Baldwin boarding penalty proved costly for the home side, however, when Myers hit his second at 59.13. After a goalless overtime, Devils’ Yorkshire-born goaltender Ben Bowns – impressive all night – then saved from Forney and Tyler Mosienko to ensure the visitors took the extra point back to South Wales.
Forney and Baldwin were on target in Coventry last night, with Mosienko quickly forgetting his shoot-out miss on Saturday with the Steelers’ overtime winner with just five seconds remaining.