Corey Neilson well aware of ‘awesome expectations’ as Nottingham Panthers look to play to their potential


Corey Neilson is well aware of the expectations Nottingham Panthers fans have of his exciting squad as he predicts they will go on a prolific run soon.

Panthers’ incredible form in the Champions Hockey League further raised hopes of a trophy laden season and they will return to European pursuits on Tuesday night against TPS Turku.

Before that, they host Manchester Storm in the Challenge Cup on Saturday night. Storm might be one of the relative minnows of the Elite League, but they currently top the league table.

Head coach Neilson is ready for a tough challenge, but feels his team are ready to dish out a hiding to someone, given the amount of quality chances they have been creating as they gradually find consistency.

Nottingham Panthers head coach Corey Neilson

“I said right at the start, this a young team. It’s going to be dumb at times and awesome at times, but I didn’t want to put a team together that was going to win 2-1 and put everyone to sleep,” he said immediately after Wednesday’s win against Belfast Giants.

“It’s exciting every day. It’s a rollercoaster.

“At some point we’ll be clinical. We’ll find holes and we’ll explode.

“At some point I know it’s going to happen. You can’t go this amount of games and have the amount of chances we are without scoring a lot of goals.

“It’s an exciting league. Any team can win at any time.

“The so-called bottom teams are good. The so-called top teams are good.

“It’s great for the game. I appreciate everyone has these awesome expectations.

“If we keep getting better then hopefully we can reach them.”

Evan Mosey scored against Belfast

While Neilson is pleased with the amount of chances being created, he is also happy with goaltender Michael Garnett after he performed well in the 5-4 win against Belfast.

He had been disappointed with some of Garnett’s performances of late.

“I’ve been asking for more. I thought he made some good saves against Belfast,” he said.

“At the other end, Jackson Whistle was tremendous. We’re making guys look like NHL goalies with the shots we’re having and the saves they’re making.”

Defenceman Mathieu Briesbois is set to make his first appearance since pre-season after injury. He will be joined in the line-up by Mathieu Gagnon, who managed to rile up Belfast coach Adam Keefe on Wednesday night.

Neilson was pleased with Gagnon as he believes games are better suited by a fired-up atmosphere.

He said: “It’s funny because Belfast traditionally doesn’t engage us. The only guy who engaged Gagnon was the coach!

“It’s weird, it’s a different group. They competed hard.

“I’m not taking anything away from that. There were battles but the whole ‘I’m going to punch you in the face thing’ hasn’t been there with Belfast for a while.

“I think games are better when there is that element. When there is that physical explosive element it’s exciting.

“It brings more energy. I like this league because there’s so many bodies.

“Everyone is fresh typically when teams hit the ice. When that’s the case, when players are fresh, exciting things happen.”

Meanwhile, Panthers are urging their fans to help the victims of the hurricane in Dominica.

There are strong connections within the Nottingham community and Dominica.

Panthers’ GM Gary Moran told the website: “There’s a collection point for goods at our fitness club ROKO, and I was talking to a guy in the gym whose mum and dad had to cuddle together under a table for 10 hours straight as the hurricane centred on their village and wiped it out.

“Their home was destroyed around them, the table saved them and this guy knew they were alive and no more. It turned out he was involved in gathering supplies to ship out to the victims and that’s where we’re hoping our brilliant fans will lend a hand.

“We’re going to create collection points just outside the safety cordon at the game against Turku on Tuesday and fans who can help can bring in things like nappies, tinned food, tarpaulins, tents, pasta, rice, sleeping bags, porridge oats, tools, deodorant, baby things, medical supplies which will then go directly to Dominica.”



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