Sports

Clan Tame Defending Champions Panthers To Make Playoff Final Four

EIHL Quarter Final Play Off Second Leg Game 

Braehead Clan 5   Nottingham Panthers 1 

Clan win 9 – 1 on Aggregate 

Braehead Clan brushed Nottingham Panthers aside in emphatic fashion on Saturday night to make it to the Playoff Finals weekend for the first time in the clubs history.

Clan followed up their fantastic 4-0 first leg score in Nottingham with an equally impressive display at home to make the final four, dumping last year’s champions out in the process.

A bumper crowd at the Braehead Arena witnessed the Panthers take an early lead in the Quarter Final second leg but Clan levelled on the night before a four goal third period rubber stamped their place in Nottingham for the Finals next weekend.

Panthers, who came from behind over two legs to win the Challenge Cup against Belfastlast week, got off to a good start as they looked for another remarkable second leg recovery. Matt Francis’s goal at 3.21 reduced the aggregate score to three and they almost doubled their lead  seconds later only to be denied by the frame of the net.

Clan slowed the early Panthers assault and hit back with a powerplay goal on 10.58 to restore their four goal advantage when captain Ash Goldie swept in the loose puck following Ed McGrane’s effort. It continued to be a close battle, with the Panthers perhaps edging it in terms of chances and possession, but they failed to find a way past Clan goaltender Kyle Jones before the end of the first period. The frustration of the first period boiled over for the Nottingham outfit when a scuffle broke out between the teams as they left the ice.

The second period was again a fairly even affair with both sides creating good openings without being able to add to the score sheet. The biggest moment of the second period occurred when Panthers, already on a 5 v 4 powerplay, successfully managed to claim Clan goalie Jones was using an illegal stick. It gave Nottingham a 5 v 3 for just over a minute but Clan stood firm to kill both powerplays as Panthers best chance to get back into the tie vanished.

Panther’s hopes were then all but extinguished early in the third as Kevin Bergin broke away to net on 44.35 and give Clan an aggregate score of 6-1. Nottingham made their frustrations known and were punished for numerous penalties during the third. Things went from bad to worse for the Panthers when Matt Towe netted on a 5 v 3 at 50.01. Goldie then added to the former Playoff Champions misery netting his second of the night on a powerplay to make it 4-1 on the night.

Joel Champagne had the last say as he found the target on 57.52 to compound Panthers misery and confirm Clan as the first Scottish side to make it to the Playoff Finals in the Elite League.

Following his side’s impressive 9-1 aggregate victory coach Ryan Finnerty praised on the way his players performed in the quarter final tie:

The guys played well over the two legs, that was some of the best systematic hockey we’ve played all season

As a coach you put the game plan together and they go and do all the hard work, they deserve all the credit that was fantastic to watch.

Finnerty is also confident Clan will make their mark at the Playoff Finals next weekend in Nottingham:

If we stick to our systems and play the way we need to play we’ll be a tough team to beat

We’re going to go down as a unit of Braehead Clan and Clan fans and we’re gonna go in it to win it.

Clan will play a semi final on the Saturday before either a third and fourth playoff game or a final waits on the Sunday.

Period Scores:

Braehead: 1+0+4=4

Nottingham: 1+0+0=1

Goals on Powerplay:

Braehead: 3/10

Nottingham: 0/3

Follow Stewart on Twitter @StewartRoss89

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