The Nottingham Panthers are more than deserving of their first EIHL Title of the modern era. This is a team that is well coached, has top-notch goaltending in Craig Kowalski (2.06 GAA, .919 Sv%), has the top scorer in David Ling (33 goals, 57 assists, 90 points), and year after year seems built to challenge for all trophies on offer.
Their 5-3 win in Belfast to clinch the league title last Friday, made the endeavour all the sweeter for the Panthers and their fans that made the journey to the Odyssey. The Giants were the defending champions, and we all know of the rivalry between the two clubs.
The Panthers now have a chance to do something almost unthinkable – they are still in the hunt for the triple crown! With the EIHL banner already in hand, they are also a game up on the Sheffield Steelers in the Challenge Cup, and of course are defending playoff champions too. The Panthers will be more than ready for the ‘Playoff Weekend‘ in their familiar surroundings at the NIC. If this team can hold on to claim the Challenge Cup over Sheffield, and defend their playoff title in Nottingham April 6-7th – then we are witnessing something that is seriously special. Hold on EIHL fans – the next few weeks in British hockey are about to get all the more interesting.
If the Cats can complete the treble, they will join the 2004-2005 Coventry Blaze as the only other team to accomplish the monumental feat in the EIHL era.
I’ll be in Nottingham for the playoffs and look forward to a busy few days at the rink – and some possible history being made. I hope to see plenty of you there! Can the Panthers do it folks? Time will tell – sit back and enjoy the ride!
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