Panthers stretched

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Nottingham Panthers began the weekend facing Humberside Hawks without their coach, Mike Blaisdell, who was suspended after an outburst directed at the referee during Thursday's draw against Peterborough Pirates.

Their import, Rick Brebant, was also out injured but Panthers showed their strength in depth with an 8-4 win, taking a 3-2 lead and weathering a Hawks revival which saw them pull back to within a goal.

They showed the same resilience against Bracknell Bees: it was 2-2 after the first period but four goals in the second secured a 6-3 win.

Panthers are still leading Sheffield Steelers at the top of the Premier Division, but now by four points and with their two-game advantage gone.

Milton Keynes Kings, second from bottom with six wins in 33 outings, took a welcome three points from their two weekend outings. A 5-5 draw with Bracknell, the only club below them, was followed by an unlikely victory at Whitley Warriors, who led 3-0 before Doug McCarthy's hat-trick brought the scores level, Kings eventually running out 7-5 winners.