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Saturday, 10 February, 2001, 13:16 GMT
Brawl taints Panthers' victory
Nottingham Panthers play Sheffield Steelers
The Panthers prevented Sheffield from claiming the title
A mass brawl marred Nottingham Panther's 6-4 victory over title favourites Sheffield Steelers at the National Ice Centre on Friday.

An inquiry by Sekonda Superleague chiefs seems certain after some of the worst scenes of violence seen at a British ice hockey rink for years.

Eight players were thrown out along with both coaches, Peter Woods and Mike Blaisdell.

Sheffield's Denis Vial sparked the second-period brawl with a cross-check on Panthers forward Greg Hadden.

This led to the Steelers defenceman being floored by Barry Nieckar, who in turn was flattened by Scott Allison.

Nottingham Panthers play Sheffield Steelers
An inquiry into the violent scenes is inevitable
Both benches cleared to join in the fracas, which forced referee Moray Hanson to send both teams back to their dressing rooms for 45 minutes to cool down.

Nieckar, Eric Lavigne, Chris Baxter and netminder Eoin McInerney were all ejected for Nottingham.

Sheffield lost Vial, Allison, goaltender Mike O'Neill and Scott Metcalfe.

Coaches Woods and Blaisdell were banished to the stands after being given gross misconduct penalties for failure to control their benches, which should also lead to further league action.

At the time the Steelers were leading 3-1 as they closed in on their first Sekonda Superleague title.

Goals from Paul Beraldo and Jason Weaver had established an early lead for Sheffield.

Baxter pulled one back for Nottingham, only for David Longstaff to again increase the visitors' advantage just under three minutes into the second period.

Momentum swing

After the fight, the Panthers took charge of the game and put three goals past new Sheffield netminder Mike Torchia in just over four minutes.

Jamie Leach, Robert Nordmark and PC Drouin were the scorers.

Paul Adey levelled for Sheffield on the powerplay, but Drouin's second goal re-established the Panthers' lead.

Greg Hadden then became the ninth player to take an early bath for excessive roughing on Rick Brebant.

Sheffield poured forward in the final session, but were unable to find a way past netminder Jordan Willis.

And Drouin completed his hat-trick with an empty-net goal at the end of the game.

Records set

A rash of new records were set during the brutal encounter.

Nottingham's 230 penalty minutes was the most in a game by one team.

A new record for penalty minutes in a period by one team was reached by Sheffield with 211.

The number of total penalty minutes in the game was 453, a new record, 404 of them in one period, another new mark.

Steelers now go to London Knights on Sunday hoping to make it third time lucky in their bid to clinch the title.

Their lead at the top of the table was cut to 25 points after Cardiff Devils moved back into second place with a 3-0 victory over Ayr Scottish Eagles.

In Belfast, Giants' third win in a row was their biggest of the season - a 6-0 thrashing of Bracknell Bees in front of another 7,300-strong sell-out at the Odyssey Arena.

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See also:

05 Feb 01 |  Other Sports
Steelers close in on title
01 Feb 01 |  Other Sports
Knights still hopeful over McSorley
29 Jan 01 |  Other Sports
Knights charge to second
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