Devils 3 – 2 Panthers (SO)
After an away win against the Panthers last night this was the first time to see the new Devils team on home ice. And, by the way, yayyyy, hockey is back! Murdy started in net the previous night and impressed, earning MOM (and at least one comment on twitter from a Nottingham observer that he is wasted on the bench). Hotham had only arrived back in the UK during the week so sat out tonight, which meant that Batch’s new role as forward was put on hold as he reverted to defence and Lord started on 3rd/4th line.
The first period saw some early chances for the Panthers. Faryna put in his early bid for fans favourite by sitting a penalty and then immediately coming out and landing a big hit. Bowns looked confident, which was reassuring as he started last season rather shakily and it wasn’t until Christmas that he really found his form. Fournier showed his skating prowess and put the Devils together with one of his familiar shots out by the boards to the far past. He demonstrated however the downside of his game several minutes later when he gave the puck away in the Panther’s zone and Farmer equalised unassisted.
The second period commenced with a period of forechecking from the Panthers that produced chances but no results. As the Devils broke with intent, Crowder looked increasingly useful shielding the net, in a role we lacked last year. Farmer took a roughing penalty and Lord and Brown dropped the gloves, indicating there was an edge to this friendly. There was a period of pressure from the Devils after this and Riddick looked impressive breaking from defence, but the period ended without any addition to the scoreline. The third period started with a siege on the Panthers’ net, with Paris demonstrating powerful interceptions and a good eye for a shot. However the Devils struggled to fit the components of their game together and the Panthers broke smoothly and Lindhagen scored in close on Bowns to give Nottingham the lead. Farmer, who was impressive throughout, picked up a ten minute penalty, giving the Devils an advantage, and Benti lifted it over Gospel to draw the game.
The game ended 2-2, and the 3 on 3 OT saw both teams go 4 on 3 for much of the time, but no resultant winner. The resulting penalty shoot out saw Bowns save all of the Panthers’ efforts and Mo score for the Devils to give them a good start to pre-season. Naturally there were signs of rustiness in the Devils play, misplaced passes, miscommunication, and lack of understanding between new pairings, but it was generally positive. The new players looked comfortable, within the confines of a friendly there was an appropriate mix of aggression and flair, and there seemed to be a good connection between players, with new guys indistinguishable from the old guard.