Final score: Nottingham Panthers (4-7 penalty shots) Sheffield Steelers (aggregate 7-8)

Flashback to the first leg between Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers.
Flashback to the first leg between Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers.
0
Have your say

He has goaltended for Nottingham Lynx, Cougars, Jaguars and Leopards - but tonight Sam Gospel was playing the biggest match of his life...against his home town team Nottingham Panthers.

For Sheffield Steelers. In a Challenge Cup semi final.

So no pressure then, at the NIC tonight, staring down the ice at title-winning American veteran Craig Kowalski.

At the tender age of 20, Gospel had been drafted in from Telford Tigers following a catastrophic list of injuries to two import and one homegrown Steeler netminders.

If that wasn’t a big enough test, his new side were already 3-1 down from the first leg, against the side who have made the trophy their own for the past five years.

It was against this background that the youngster donned the 31 shirt and went to war with team-mates whom he’d never met.

He must have felt a surge of relief when the first goal went in at the opposite end.

Colton Fretter navigated around the faceoff circle and banged one over Kowalski’s arm.

That was at 4;34.

And by 5;41 it was 3-0 on the night, amazingly, with Mathieu Roy and Tyler Mosienko scoring.

Nottingham were stunned and it took them to the second period to get on the scoreboard.

It was 4-4 on aggregate when Evan Mosey netted at 30:30.

And Panthers took a second leg lead for the first time at 37.33 through Chris Lawrence with Jonathan Phillips in the box.

They added straight away, Rob Farmer made it 3-3 on the night, 6-4 on aggregate with a pearling effort.

That’s the way it stayed until the second interval - leaving the same two goal mountain to climb for Sheffield that they had confronted at the face off.

The last period was only a minute old when d-man Ben O’Connor slotted the puck through Kowalski’s legs for 6-5 aggregate.

But that was effectively cancelled out at 45.08 when Panthers scored short handed, through Mosey.

Astonishingly Panthers conceded straight after, Rob Dowd getting his first of the night.

But the drama wasn’t over: Fretter again beating Kowalski for a 7-7 aggregate!

Overtime failed to provide a winner.

So it was on to penalty shots - the lottery being won by Tomas Petruska while Gospel made three saves.

An absolutely amazing night ending with Steelers peventing Panthers from winning the Cup for the sixth straight time, in Sheffield Arena.