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Nottingham Panthers

Not In Our Barn!

The season is a long hard slog.

It’s a fight where one by one the real challengers rise to the heat of the battle while the pretenders fall by the wayside. Emotions are stoked as rivalries are developed and victories are fought for with blood and sweat.

When you start the season as reigning champions you stand atop of the pedestal looking down, your position under fire from 9 teams fighting for the throne! Belfast have learned that to stay atop of the pile can be even more difficult as reaching there in the first place. But if or when the time approaches to vacate your title, pride must remain, respect must be gained and a fight must be made!

The Nottingham Panthers have struggled for many years in their attempt to reach the pinnacle of UK Hockey. The year 1956 is thrown in their faces, a simple means of ridicule. It of course ignores the twenty years spent in hockey limbo before Gary Keward revived the franchise and laid the foundations for the club to grow. Keward’s decision to move a team from Sheffield to the Ice Stadium in Nottingham brought delight to many in the town who recalled the older days of the Panthers and began creating a newer generation of fans. Their first game, a 7-4 win over the Solihull Barons signalled a winning return to what they hoped would be a winning team.

Many many seasons had been spent toiling in regional lower leagues. Paying dues and fighting to develop and expand the franchise. Watching on as the likes Durham, Whitley, Cardiff and, most horrifyingly, Sheffield celebrated win after win, success after success, title after title. Watched on, for 33 years, watched on when time and time again they came up short, they fell by the wayside and suffered ridicule.

Time has passed, the game has changed. The Nottingham Panthers are a much larger, more successful business that Keward could maybe ever have imagined, yet still they wait to be top of the pile. Still they look for vindication. But that vindication could only be round the corner. It is only two points away.

But where are those two points?

They lie in one of 3 places. The Odyssey Arena. The National Ice Centre or the Cardiff Ice Arena. The key to ultimate glory sits in one of these three buildings.

But the first hurdle they meet are the Champions in situ!

This may be, and most likely will be, the year Nottingham finally reach the top. But one thing is for sure, it wont be easy for them.

Tonight is the first of two games between the Champions and the Champions elect. Nothing would please a winning team more than to rip the trophy from the hands of their title rival. To show them what they have achieved. To hold silverware aloft by conquering their army in a foreign land!

But not today!

Not Tomorrow! 

Not In Belfast!

Emotions run strong in history. Belfast may be a relative newcomer compared to many teams in this league. But their history of success runs deep. Their record in the EIHL is one of victory and top level competition. Silverware and success. And pride runs through the organisation and the fans.

Pride!

This season they have pushed the Panthers to within 4 games of the title. They have worked hard to retain their place on the throne of UK Hockey. They will not step away without a fight!

Nottingham need 2 points form four games. Any two points will suffice. But there is no doubt in where they want to gain those two points. They want them in Belfast. They want them from the champions. They want to land the knock-out blow and take the title home.

But that will not be simple. There is emotion in the Odyssey Arena. There is pride. There is passion.

The Giants take to the ice with belief behind them. And with a stubborn attitude of defiance!

The fans believe in their team. As Panthers fans arrive in their droves to push their team to victory, likewise Giants fans must respond with defiance.

The eyes of hockey fans across the nation are all turned to these two game!

Two games in which the Giants must make the Panthers PROVE they are worthy champions.

Two games in which the Giants must instil PRIDE in the organisation.

Two games in which the Giants must drive the EMOTION in their fans! This must be a cauldron for the opposition to compete with!

Two games in which the Giants and the fans must send a very distinct message to the travelling team!

“You may believe you will win the league.

But you aren’t going to do it here.

NOT IN OUR BARN!