Elite League preview: Panthers aiming to get into the mix

Nottingham Panthers bid to continue their recent upturn in form when they face Belfast Giants and Cardiff Devils in the Elite League this weekend.

After a dismal run of form in domestic competitions, the Panthers are now unbeaten in their last four games and have also progressed to the semi-final of the Challenge Cup after knocking out Braehead Clan.

League victories over Cardiff and Coventry Blaze last weekend moved the Panthers up to fourth in the table and Player/Assistant Coach David Clarke is keen to keep the momentum going into the busy Christmas period.

“It was a great performance to get through to the semi-final of the cup and it’s a big opportunity for us at the weekend to get some points in the league,” Clarke told Panthers Radio.

“We had to take a look in the mirror to get things back on track after some disappointing results and it’s been great how everyone’s responded.

“The atmosphere’s definitely changed and I think you can see that on the ice – I think the fans will be a lot happier too.

“The league’s really important here – everyone knows that. We’ve got a lot of games coming up against some good teams that are ahead of us in the league.

“If we can put together a good run, we can start to reel them back in and put ourselves in the mix.

“Over the years there’s always been a team or two that pulls themselves back into the race over the Christmas period, so we need to make sure that’s us this year.”

Fife Flyers face a big weekend as they look to halt their slide down the table.

The Flyers visit Manchester Storm on Saturday before hosting Braehead Clan on home ice the following day, and head into the games having won just once in their last six matches.

Last Sunday’s defeat at Edinburgh Capitals saw the Kirkcaldy side blow a 3-1 lead to lose 6-3, but forward Brendan Brooks believes the team has enough quality to turn things around.

“We’ve got to move on from it – there’s a new weekend coming up and it’s going to take us all playing together to get back on track,” Brooks told Fife Today.

“We’ve just go to take some points that we maybe would’ve been able to give up in future. Every game is a play-off game now.

“We’ve seen it in spurts this year – when we have a full and healthy line-up, we’re a very good team.

“We know that in the room, and when we get away from doing a few things, and lose a few bodies, we have to learn to adapt better than we are.

“In this sport there’s always lots of injuries, so we have to find a way to adapt better when we’re missing guys – no matter who it is.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Saturday

Belfast Giants v Nottingham Panthers
Braehead Clan v Coventry Blaze
Cardiff Devils v Sheffield Steelers
Edinburgh Capitals v Dundee Stars
Manchester Storm v Fife Flyers

Sunday

Coventry Blaze v Belfast Giants
Dundee Stars v Edinburgh Capitals
Fife Flyers v Braehead Clan
Nottingham Panthers v Cardiff Devils

(Image permission: Karl Denham)

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