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Monday, 5 March, 2001, 07:51 GMT
Panthers progress in dramatic finale
Nottingham Panthers' netminder
The Nottingham Panthers' play-off will be in April
Nottingham Panthers 3-2 Newcastle Jesters

Nottingham Panthers produced a dramatic ending to the Sekonda Superleague season by clinching their play-off place in the dying seconds of their showdown with Newcastle Jesters.

Defenceman Robert Nordmark was Nottingham's hero as the Panthers finally won a league game in regulation - a feat they had not achieved all season.

Nottingham needed all three points to grab the eighth and final play-off position from Newcastle, and it looked encouraging following Kevin Hoffman's brace in the space of four second-period minutes.

But roared on by their fans Newcastle hit back as Corey Lyons netted either side of the second interval to level the game and seemingly force overtime.

This would have given Newcastle the single point they desperately required.

But Nottingham salvaged their season and ended Jesters' campaign a month early as Nordmark sent his players and the fans delirious with his late winner.

Bracknell Bees 1-0 London Knights

A 33-shot shutout from netminder Joe Watkins helped Bracknell Bees to a 1-0 win over London Knights, helping them to finish a creditable third in the table.

Last season's champions had previously been no higher than fifth over the last seven months, but a run of eight wins in their final 10 games ensured a respectable defence of the title.

The only goal of the game, in front of a crowd of 5,000 at the London Arena, came from Darren Hurley just after the midway point of the game.

Sheffield Steelers 5-3 Manchester Storm

A season-high attendance of 12,303 watched Sheffield Steelers complete their title-winning campaign in style at the MEN Arena.

Marty Flichel netted early goals at the start of the first two periods for the home side, with Kayle Short adding another.

The Steelers then hit back in the second session with Rick Brebant, Jason Weaver and Paul Beraldo all scoring within the space of six minutes.

Although Greg Bullock gave Storm a bright start to the third period, Shayne McCosh wrapped up Sheffield's 35th league win of the season, resulting in a 20-point gap to runners-up Cardiff Devils.

Sheffield, London, Belfast Giants and Nottingham will now comprise one play-off group, with Cardiff, Bracknell, Ayr Scottish Eagles and Manchester in the other.

The games commence next week ahead of the final on 1 April.

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