“It’s big we got this one in regulation. They had to do what they had to do pulling the goalie [in the last minute]. We take that bounce. We’re happy right now,” Herr said.
After being at the unlucky end in a shootout loss to host SonderjyskE Vojens on Friday, the Nottingham Panthers started with pressure against Cracovia Krakow.
However, once the Polish team was on offence, it used its first chances after three minutes. A puck loss put Cracovia in the driving seat. The Panthers battled the puck back but Mark Matheson lost it behind his own net to Zdenek Bahensky, who passed it to Polish national team forward Damian Kapica – and the puck was in the net of Kevin Carr, who yesterday had a shutout streak of over 56 minutes.
The Panthers were looking to get back but Cracovia wasn’t hiding and used its first power play to go two goals ahead thanks to a distance shot from Michal Vachovec.
“We didn’t start well but then scored two goals and it was a good period for us. We knew that they were going to play physical and we were prepared for that and played well,” Marek Tyrdon said.
History repeated after 107 seconds of the second period. During a power play Jiri Gula sent a shot from behind the right face-off circle to the net and Kapica was ready in front of it and credited for his second goal of the day.
Three minutes later Gula was again in the centre of attention but this time because of a penalty for holding. The Panthers sniffed a chance and Jake Hansen scored from almost identical position like the shots from Cracovia’s past to goals to cut the deficit to 3-1.
“We were sluggish in the first period but were happy how we improved our game in the second period. We were creating chances even though it was not going our way in the second period,” said Nottingham’s Dylan Malmquist.
The Panthers continued to push hard in the third period and the next power play meant the next goal. Julian Talbot capitalized in front of the net at 10:45 after a shot from Samuel Herr and brought the game back to a one-goal margin. And when Mateusz Bepierszcz was assesses a tripping penalty a few minutes later, the Panthers punished the opponent fast again when captain Herr diverted a shot to tie the game at three with 4:35 left in regulation time.
Cracovia Krakow took its time-out and with both teams needing three points to keep hopes alive, Cracovia pulled its goaltender for a last-minute effort to get the three points. But that did nothing more than help the Panthers as Herr scored into the empty net for his second goal and the game-winner for the Nottingham Panthers with just one second left.
Cracovia is now out of contention while the Nottingham Panthers have the possibility to win the tournament in Sunday evening’s game against Neman Grodno – depending on the outcome of tonight’s Neman-SonderjyskE game.
“Tomorrow is a championship game. It’s like quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals and we’re in the final tomorrow. We can’t win the tournament if we don’t win tomorrow,” said Herr.
“We just have to regroup and get ready to go. Some guys will check them out tonight, our coaches will do their research. Now our focus will be on them.”