An overtime goal from Kevin Domingue completed a thrilling 3-2 comeback win for the Nottingham Panthers over Sheffield Steelers on Saturday night.
Goals from Justin Hodgman and Martin Látal turned the game on its head for the visitors after the Panthers took an early lead through Mathieu Tousignant’s powerplay goal. A third-frame leveller from Nottingham’s summer signing Massimo Carozza set the Midlands derby up for a blockbuster finale before Domingue’s fabulous overtime-winner sealed two crucial points for the hosts.
In front of nearly 5500 fans at Motorpoint Arena Nottingham, the Panthers capitalised on Matias Sointu’s early interference penalty and took the lead on 04:44, when Canadian forward Tousignant tucked home a rebounded powerplay goal from close-range. The unassisted goal was Tousignant’s first in the Challenge Cup.
Sheffield were level within five minutes. Defenceman Sam Jones fired an ambitious effort from the point into traffic, and the puck beat goaltender Kevin Carr on 09:18 following a clever redirect from Hodgman. The opening period ticked to a close with a remarkable total of 33 shots on the board.
The Steelers went ahead with the only goal of the middle third when Látal finished a shorthanded solo effort just beyond the halfway point in the match. Nottingham had seen a number of chances early in the period thwarted by brilliant netminding from Rok Stojanovič, who went on to claim the Steelers’ man of the match award.
It took just 97 seconds of the final period for the Panthers to draw level when Carozza tied the game with a cool finish off of a deflected pass from behind the net. The Steelers came agonisingly close to snatching a win late in the tie, but a heroic block from Brady Norrish spared the blushes of marauding goaltender Carr and ensured a period of sudden-death overtime.
Panthers got off to a nightmare start in overtime, as a penalty was called on Carr for a trip early in the period. With the man advantage, Sheffield plundered the net as they sought the winning goal, but the Panthers absorbed the pressure well.
Coach Tim Wallace’s men sealed the victory in an enthralling fashion as the clock ticked into the final minute. A brave, defensive block in the slot opened the chance for a rapid two-on-zero rush, with Simon Suoranta carrying the puck in transition before squaring it for Domingue to smash into the top-left corner.
The Panthers’ victory ties things up at the top of the Premier Sports Challenge Cup’s Division C, with both Nottingham and Sheffield sitting on seven points from their four games.
The Nottingham Panthers are next in action on Friday night when they welcome Belfast Giants to Motorpoint Arena Nottingham in the Elite Ice Hockey League.