Cangelosi hat-trick ends Elite Series for Blaze
A hat-trick from American forward Austin Cangelosi secured a 4-1 victory for the Nottingham Panthers in the second-leg of the playoff semi-final and saw the Coventry Blaze knocked out of the Elite Series 6-1 on aggregate.
Facing a 2-0 deficit, the Blaze started Shane Owen in goal and welcomed back forward Vanya Antonov to the line-up, with defenceman Sam Russell sitting out. The Panthers retained the same line-up from the first leg, with Jackson Whistle starting in goal.
The Blaze got off to the worst possible start when a pass across the front of the Blaze goal from Owen Griffiths was deflected in by Cangelosi, despite the close attention of defenceman Chris Pohlkamp, after just 25 seconds.
Nottingham enjoyed the majority of the early offensive pressure, with Owen pulling off good saves from Nick Dineen and Robert Lachowicz inside the first five minutes. The Panthers nearly went 2-0 up when a goalmouth scramble saw the puck squirt out from under Owen to Christophe Boivin, who fired the puck high into the net but the whistle had already been blown.
Coventry began to create some offence and finally found the net when a shot from Luke Ferrara from the right hand side flicked Whistle's glove, looped up into the air and was tapped into the net as it dropped down by Simen Andre Edvardsen at 13.00.
But the Panthers regained the lead with just under three minutes to go in the period when the puck broke to Brett Perlini who set up Kevin Domingue at the back door at 17.22.
Both sides create early chances in the second period and the Blaze got their first powerplay of the night when Cangelosi was called for tripping Cole Shudra at 26.37. But it was the Panthers who came closest to scoring when Jordan Kelsall hit the post on a short-handed breakaway after the Blaze turned the puck over in the neutral zone.
Whistle pulled off a good glove save to deny Janne Laakkonen after good work from Nick Jermain, but less than two minutes later he Panthers made it 3-1. A shot from Dineen was tipped in front by Mark Matheson and, although Owen made the save, the puck fell to the impressive Griffiths who passed it to Cangelosi to score his second of the night at 32.13.
The Blaze came close to pulling one back when a shot from Tristan Keck hit the inside of the post and bounced out at 33.43, and in the dying seconds Perlini forced a save from Owen and David Clements cleared the puck after it came free.
The start of the third period was tightly fought and good defensive work by Clements denied Domingue the chance for a goal in the 47th minute. The Blaze got a powerplay after Cangelosi was sent to the penalty box for tripping and thought they had pulled a goal back when Nicolai Bryhnisveen fired home from the point from a pass from Mike Hammond at 52.15. But the goal was wiped off for an offside earlier in the play, following a challenge by Panthers coach Tim Wallace.
And Cangelosi completed his hat-trick 12 seconds after coming out of the penalty box when he broke through down the middle of the Blaze zone and pulled a nice move to slide the puck past Owen for a delayed penalty goal at 54.27, the goal being awarded following another review for possible offside.