Ice Hockey: Panthers feast on low-flying Fife

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The Independent Online
Nottingham Panthers gorged themselves on their weekend double-header, pulling three points away from Sheffield Steelers at the top of the Premier Division with a brace of wins, while the Steelers could manage only a draw and a defeat. The Panthers followed a 7-3 victory over Durham Wasps with a 10-4 hammering of Fife Flyers, during which they hardly broke sweat. The Steelers, on the other hand, were faced with a tough encounter against the third-placed Cardiff Devils, followed by the challenging prospect of Humberside Hawks.

Against Cardiff, the Steelers led 4-3 going into the final period, but Stephen Cooper, back after a lengthy injury lay-off, scored twice as the Devils moved into an 8-7 lead, before Kevin Priestley salvaged a point for Sheffield with two minutes to go.

So Steelers' run of 14 games without defeat just about continued. Until the following day, that is, against Humberside. An end-to-end game saw Steelers take a 1-0 first-period lead and also lose Rob Wilson for slashing. Hawks took their chances in the second period for a 6-2 lead. They then wisely sat back, and absorbed the Sheffield pressure for a 6-5 win.

Dumb display of the weekend was by Whitley Warriors and, to a lesser extent, Edinburgh Racers. Warriors played some of their best hockey to end the first period 2-0 up, only for a brawl to erupt as the sides were leaving the ice, leading to three Warriors, including netminder Kevin Dear, being thrown out of the game, together with two Racers.

Racers shot 11 past Dear's replacement, Tony McAleavey, in the second period to take an 11-6 lead, and although he was replaced by Dean Richards, who produced some great saves, it was too late for Warriors and Racers ran out 16-11 victors.

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