Nottingham Panthers 3-2 Sheffield Steelers

Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers: not exactly best of friends
Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers: not exactly best of friends

Nottingham Panthers gift-wrapped a late Christmas present for their fans - four points from arch rivals Sheffield Steelers.

Panthers scored a winner with 116 seconds left in a game that the South Yorkshire team felt they could have won.

Steelers now remain six points behind second placed Belfast Giants with two games in hand.

The showdown at the NIC came 24 hours after Nottingham had taken both points in a Boxing Day 3-2 win at Sheffield.

In the end, like Boxing Day, they succumbed to a Jason Williams winner

It took seven minutes for Nottingham to snatch the advantage again, Stephen Schultz firing a savage shot around Ervins Mustukovs’ blocker.

But Mathieu Roy scored from Christoffer Bjorklund’s pass from behind the net at 12.50.

Then Roy set up an equaliser for linemate Colton Fretter, following earlier work on the boards from Yared Hagos.

The second session began with some absorbing, fluent attacks from both sides.

Roy remained a peril for Panthers, but Miika Wiikman and his blue line core kept him at bay in a goalless if entertaining 20 minutes.

Having outshot Nottingham 27-18, Steelers now needed to close the deal.

First they had to kill a Davey Phillips penalty. And then a disputed Levi Nelson indiscretion.

Like the Boxing Day version, there was tension, best illustrated when Wiikman lashed out after Roy’s challenge, the Steeler taking a roughing penalty. On the 5-on-3 man advantage Panthers found a way back, Schultz roofing the puck for his second of the night.

Steelers were on the back foot.

And they went behind for a second time when Panthers broke 3 on 2. Robert Farmer supplied Jason Williams and his first time shot flashed into the Steeler net at 58:04.

Robert Lachowicz hit the post on an empty net opportunity, as Panthers took the points...again.