Three-netminder shutout has Panthers fans scouring the record books
ICE hockey buffs were today scouring the record books in the wake of Nottingham Panthers' 10-0 victory over Edinburgh Capitals.
It wasn't the margin of their victory at the National Ice Centre that has enthusiasts puzzled, but the fact that the shutout came after table-topping Panthers used THREE goaltenders.
With No.1 goalie Craig Kowalski planning to return home for personal reasons, Panthers wisely had 18-year-old netminder Sam Gospel on the team-sheet as a skater on Tuesday.
When Kowalski left the game at the end of the first period, with Panthers winning 5-0, he was replaced by back-up Dan Green, with Gospel then changing into his netminder's equipment to become the new No.2.
And when Green was injured in the third period, teenager Gospel came on for the last five minutes to see out the three-goalie shutout.
Panthers' rivals and some supporters have questioned the move, but as long as the back-up was injured, Panthers were perfectly entitled to use a third goalie as per International Federation (IIHF) regulations.
Panthers' general manager Gary Moran said: "I'm sure we must have set some kind of record. I certainly have never heard of a team using three goalies and still getting a shut-out.
"I know people have been searching to see if it has happened before, but I don't know of any similar incident.
"When we knew Craig had to be at home with his wife, we took precautions by having young Sam on the team-sheet. We spoke with the chief referee (Michael Hicks) to double check no rules were being broken."
Great Britain's IIHF referees' assessor and the league's former chief official Simon Kirkham was at the game and confirmed the move as legitimate.
He said: "The IIHF procedure was followed to the letter and we have no problems whatsoever with what Panthers did. You can in fact warm-up with three netminders, but only two are allowed to be suited up on the bench.
"The fact they had young Gospel on the team-sheet as an outskater was a smart move by them to cover all possibilities. But anyone on the bench, even their best player, could have dressed up when Kowalski had to leave the game.
"But had the first back-up not been injured, then and only then it would have been illegal to use a third goaltender."
Moran added: "I know we were playing the bottom-placed team, but what has to be remembered is that it was our fourth game in five days and before we scored against Edinburgh, we could have been three goals down but for Craig.
"But to follow up three five-goal wins with ten more – that's 25 goals in four games – to take us a point clear at the top of the table is a great achievement."
In the meantime, another goaltender in the news will be hoping to make up for his self-confessed poor performance against Panthers last week at the start of their three-wins-in-three-nights trek to Scotland.
Braehead Clan's Garrett Zemlak had five put past him by the rampant Nottingham side last Friday, but insists returning to the scene of one of his most memorable nights can help him bounce back when the Scots visit the National Ice Centre seeking revenge tomorrow night.
The stopper had another nightmare on Sunday in Braehead's defeat against Dundee, but he says memories of his sensational display for Fife Flyers at the NIC last season, when he saved all but two of the 76 shots rained in on him, will spur him on.
He said: "I wasn't at my best last weekend, but I played well in Nottingham for Fife last season, although I know it wasn't the best venue for Braehead last year.
"Hopefully I can put on another display like I did with Flyers and try to change that.
"I'm excited to have another go at these guys and try to get one back. I'll go and play my heart out.
"I know I'm one of the best goalies in this league and I'm confident I will have shown that by the end of the season."
Cardiff's Max Birbraer has been banned for eight games and team-mate Devin Diodemete suspended for three games following their actions during and after the Devils' home Challenge Cup game with Coventry last weekend.
Devils' bench coach Neil Francis has also been banned for five games following his actions in the incident, which saw him and Birbraer involved in an altercation after the final hooter.
Coventry's Benn Olson has had his match penalty for hitting a supporter removed from the records.