Now Panthers focusing on vital Steelers clash
TITLE-CHASING Nottingham Panthers know they will need a full 60-minute performance when they face Sheffield Steelers in a crucial clash at the National Ice Centre on Friday (7.30pm).
They are three points ahead of second- placed Steelers and have a game in hand over their arch-enemies with ten more to play after this huge game, which will be virtually a sell-out.
And after a weekend when they played some of their best hockey of the season, but not for the entire game, American defenceman Eric Werner says when it comes to the crunch, they will be ready.
Against Braehead last Saturday, Panthers raced into a seven-goal lead after 40 minutes before easing off to eventually win 7-3.
And the next night against Fife, it was another ultra-dominant display that saw them take a three-goal lead before the Scots mounted a fightback as Panthers finally won 5-3.
Werner, 30, said: "In both games it was the great start we were looking for – the challenge now is to keep it up for the full 60 minutes.
"We have points and games in hand and it is all about keeping that winning run going.
"The thing is, we know we have been playing well but in games like this, we have to up the gas a little bit and put in a full 60 minutes together.
"Against Braehead it was for two periods before we eased up; against Fife we played very well to get that lead and in the end it was another two points.
"It was a big weekend for us. All we were looking at was getting those four points and not worrying about the next game.
"But now we can afford a look at the standings and concentrate on the next one – which is Sheffield."
After defensive forward Brandon Benedict's first professional career hat-trick, against Braehead, Werner acknowledged that the strength of this current Panthers side is that every line comes up with goals and points.
He said: "Everyone is contributing which is great. I even got three assists . . . lucky assists.
"Just give credit to the guys who scored them. But they all count."
Defending league champions Belfast Giants are under new ownership for the THIRD time this season.
In October, Jim Gillespie sold controlling shares in the Giants to US investor Christopher Knight.
But they are now apparently owned by the Odyssey Trust, which runs the arena, after they claim "major issues" concerning Knight have come to light.
The Trust offered to buy out Knight but after no agreement was reached, they terminated his contract for Giants to play at the Odyssey Arena.
General manager Todd Kelman resigned and the players subsequently told Knight their contracts were no longer in effect, with the Trust signing them to new agreements.
The switch in ownership has been given the green light by the Elite League who have said in a statement: "The position of Belfast Giants in the League is not under threat.
"The League has been kept fully informed and the management, coaches and players have our backing."