Braehead Clan lose to Nottingham Panthers in the Challenge Cup

By Craig AndersonBBC Sport Nation
Ice hockey

Two early goals proved fatal to Braehead Clan's Challenge Cup dreams as they fell to a 3-0 defeat by current holders Nottingham Panthers, losing 5-3 on aggregate.

Confidence was high after Saturday's euphoric 3-2 win at Braehead, but, within minutes of the match starting, the tie quickly turned sour with Panthers taking an early lead.

Set up by Brandon Benedict, Jordan Fox's shot slithered away from Braehead netminder Jaakko Suomalainen and dribbled into the net to level the aggregate score.

Then a thunderous drive from Guillame Lepine took a wicked deflection off Fox and the Panthers were well on their way with a 2-0 lead by the end of the opening period.

Benedict broke away during the second period to increase the margin, firing home shorthanded past Suomalainen to give Nottingham a healthy three-goal cushion.

The visitors almost got a lifeline when Drew Bannister lashed his shot off the inside of the post before it rebounded out, then Krestanovich was denied by Panthers' keeper Craig Kowalski.

It ended the weekend on a sour note after Clan's 3-2 win over Nottingham at Braehead just 24 hours earlier in the first leg.

Jade Galbraith had put them ahead, but late goals from player-coach Bannister and a wonder shot from Brock McPherson sealed the comeback win after going 2-1 behind.

Defenceman Tim Wedderburn could not hide his disappointment at seeing the Challenge Cup dream snatched from his team.

Wedderburn said: "It's disappointing that we did so well in Saturday's game, but couldn't turn it into the second leg on Sunday.

"The crowd made a real difference to us on Saturday with the way the game went, but we don't have excuses. We just couldn't put the puck in the net."

Scottish results and scorers

Elite Ice Hockey League

Friday 13 January:

Dundee Stars 1-3 Cardiff Devils: (Dolan 21:04); (Hill 10:23, MacRae 24:55, Smith 34:10)

Elite Ice Hockey League/Challenge Cup semi-final

Saturday 14 January:

Braehead Clan 3-2 Nottingham Panthers: (Galbraith 18:15, Bannister 51:25, McPherson 53:52 PP); (Clarke 41:44 Francis 52:55)

Fife Flyers 1-3 Cardiff Devils: (Horne 59:53 PP); (MacRae 15:07, Matzka 25:05 SH, Dobben 58:50 EN)

Hull Stingrays 3-0 Edinburgh Capitals: (Cloutier 7:04 SH, Ondrej 22:07, Tendler 56:40)

Sunday 15 January:

Nottingham Panthers 3-0 Braehead Clan: (Fox 1:12, Fox 9:15, Benedict 36:17 SH)

Edinburgh Capitals 1-2 Cardiff Devils: (Zembergs 8:22); (Pierce 51:23, Matzka 64:59 OT)

Sheffield Steelers 3-1 Dundee Stars: (King 8:44 PP, Fulghum 21:37, Fulghum 43:48); (Hutchins 33:43)