Nottingham Panthers ‘really clicking’ as they look to go top of the Elite League with win against Belfast Giants


Nottingham Panthers will move two points clear at the top of the Elite League if they beat Belfast Giants at the SSE Arena on Wednesday night.

Panthers are level on points with Manchester Storm but have two games in hand due to their European exertions.

The rigours of their Champions Hockey League campaign show no signs of having a negative effect on Corey Neilson’s team who, with 11 victories from 14 games, have the highest win percentage in the league.

Strengthening their position even further will be no easy task against fourth-placed Belfast, who had Panthers’ number on their ice last season.

However, this is a vastly different Nottingham line-up and assistant coach Rick Strachan says they are clicking from top to bottom despite a summer overhaul.

Alexander Mokshantsev brings the puck forwards

“It’s really clicking. We’re winning games,” he said.

“Sometimes they’re hard. Sometimes they’re easy. We extremely happy with how the lines are playing and how they’re clicking.

“There’s a few finer details to work on, but right now we’re really happy.”

Panthers will be at full strength for the trip to Northern Ireland with Josh Shalla available after the forward was not risked at the weekend.

“He had a slight injury. We’re fortunate we can rest the guys and that will help in the long run,” Strachan said.

Shalla’s return means an import netminder is set to sit out with Sam Gospel backing up after an impressive performance on loan at Hull Pirates on Saturday, when he was their man of their match.

Strachan is delighted with the goaltending options at present after seeing Mike Garnett produce a run of top drawer performances, while Patrick Galbraith has barely put a foot wrong since his arrival.

Panthers netminder Mike Garnett makes a save

“It’s pleasing. We were fortunate to pick up Patrick Galbraith and really help with the goaltending,” he said.

“Both of them have been solid and we don’t have to worry about burning one of them out.”

On the attacking front, Alexander Mokshantsev continues to impress with 15 points from 19 domestic games.

The 22-year-old winger produced a brilliant assist for Dan Spang’s opening goal in Saturday’s 5-1 win against Braehead Clan.

Strachan says the Russian has the ability to see openings other players cannot as his stock rises.

“He’s very creative. He sees things most guys don’t,” he said.

“He can handle the puck and he can pass it. Most of all is his vision.

“He cuts across the blue line and sees a guy coming. He lays it on a plate right there. Spanger was able to go on and do a great job of finishing.”



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