Ice Hockey: Murphy enjoys double

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KEVIN MURPHY, of Nottingham Panthers, celebrated his joint award as Heineken Premier Division coach of the month with two wins at the weekend which saw Panthers move from seventh to fifth in the table, writes Steve Pinder.

In the past, the first win would have been the hardest as Durham Wasps were the visitors. But Simon Perkins recorded his first three-goal spree since 1988 and the final score of 7-4 flattered Wasps after Panthers had been 5-0 up at half-time.

Against Peterborough Pirates on Sunday, it was 5-5 in the third period thanks to a short-handed goal by Trent Kaeses. Pirates then pulled ahead before Panthers reeled them in and, with seven seconds left, an empty-net goal by Paul Adey settled matters.

At the top of the table, it was more serene, Cardiff Devils beating the second-placed Murrayfield Racers in what amounted to a four-pointer.

Terry Matthews was to mark his share of the coaching award with Murphy at Billingham's 17-9 win over Whitley Warriors - a Premier Division record for Bombers amounting to four consecutive home wins and six matches without defeat. HEINEKEN LEAGUE Premier Division: Billingham 17 Whitley 9; Cardiff 7 Murrayfield 5; Fife 3 Humberside 5; Nottingham 7 Durham 4. Sunday: Bracknell 6 Cardiff 12; Durham 8 Murrayfield 6; Peterborough 7 Nottingham 9; Whitley 11 Humberside 5. First Division: Milton Keynes 7 Swindon 7; Slough 12 Telford 7; Lee Valley 8 Basingstoke 23. Sunday: Basingstoke 17 Milton Keynes 3; Lee Valley 8 Slough 14; Medway 3 Romford 7.