Five Things We Learned: Panthers ready for Europe

It's five wins in a row for Nottingham Panthers as they head to the Continental Cup (PHOTO: Panthers Images)

We’re giving the final word on the weekend and what better way to do it than share the biggest things we’ve taken away from the last few days.

1.  In-form Panthers turning it around

It doesn’t seem that long since we were wondering what Nottingham Panthers would do on the back of some bad results and growing discontent.

Now, in the week where they’ll be in Continental Cup action, they go into it in the best possible form after two big home wins over Belfast Giants and a run now extended to five wins and six from their last seven.

The arrival of Jake Hansen has breathed new life into them and if they can carry that on into a tournament they won just three years ago, then Tim Wallace, their coach will be a happy man.

Fife coach Todd Dutiaume hasn’t been happy with his team in recent games (PHOTO: Fife Flyers)

2. Flyers fans patience wearing thin

Todd Dutiaume, Fife’s long-serving coach, is cutting more and more a forlorn figure whenever he goes in front of the camera as more defeats continue to blight their season.

Frustrations in the fan base have been bubbling away for the last few months, with the performances and results of the team also adding to frustrations of the off-ice operation.

The fans need something soon to shout about and the joy of the recent win over Cardiff has since been tempered by disappointing losses to Glasgow Clan and Dundee Stars has long since evaporated.

Something needs to happen and soon if the Fife fans are to be brought back on side.

It was another big win for Manchester Storm (PHOTO: Mark Ferriss)

3. Storm still upsetting the bigger boys

Manchester Storm might be bottom of the Elite League table, but the wins they do tend to be whoppers, as Sheffield Steelers fans can testify after a frustrating encounter over Ryan Finnerty’s side.

With defeats in their last six, the 4-3 victory over Aaron Fox’s men was timely and looking at the wins they have picked up this season, Manchester are saving them for some good opponents.

They’ve beaten Belfast twice, Steelers twice now and Panthers, but they don’t need us to tell them they need to beat the other teams too to help lift them up the table.

It was a winning weekend for MK Lightning (PHOTO: Tony Sargent)

4. Liam Stewart could be MK’s Lightning Rod (sorry!)

We’ve wondered for weeks if MK Lightning would start to motor in the NIHL National League, if you read this column or hear the podcast and this week, it looks at though they’ve finally cracked it.

A four-point weekend has lifted them off the bottom of the table after beating Bracknell Bees and Sheffield Steeldogs and you get the feeling Lewis Clifford and his men are looking upwards.

It’s no coincidence, surely, that Liam Stewart, son of legendary singer Rod, back in the UK after taking a year out, impressed with four goals in the two games as well to add to the smiles.

The route ahead is not an easy one, but after a tough couple of years, there could be signs of turning it all around.

Petr Cech was back in action for Guildford Phoenix (PHOTO: PA)

5. Two from two as Cech returns to action

It was another outing for former Chelsea and Arsenal goalie Petr Cech as he helped Guildford Phoenix to another win in NIHL South West 2, this time in a 6-4 win over Swindon Wildcats 2.

Cech played the full game and again, performed well against the team he made his debut against last month, to great fanfare and coverage across the country.

This time was a bit more low key, but still exciting to see someone with such a huge sporting pedigree taking part in our sport and for him, living a dream.

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