The Panthers were unfortunately overcome 5-3 by an impressive Oxford outfit. Photo: CUSU.

Warwick Panthers proud, despite narrow defeat

A new look Warwick/Coventry Panthers side opened up their BUIHA Checking Division 1 South Campaign with a 5-3 loss to the Oxford Blues. Despite the defeat, the boys in white and blue will take many positives from a strong performance in which they dominated their opponents for extended periods. A few lapses in concentration and defensive errors proved costly in a hotly contested game which hung in the balance until the dying moments.

The Panthers got off to a sluggish start, conceding two goals in the space of two minutes, an early deficit that would prove costly. Shellshocked, the Panthers sought an immediate response and found one. A long-range slap shot by number 52 Liam Martin with 4:44 on the clock put the home team on the scoreboard. For the rest of the first period the Panthers chased the game, mustering 17 attempts on goal to their opponents 13.

Liam Martin scored late on to set up a tense finish

Heading into the second period the Panthers side seemed to gel, moving the puck well and piling the pressure on their opponents. But, despite being on the defence for much of the second period it was the Blues who would score next. They restored their two goal lead four minutes into the second period. The Panthers would once again respond with a goal of their own. Sam Quilter snuck a low shot into the net to make it 3-2.

At the beginning of the third and  final period of play the Panthers seemed to tire. Oxford cut open the home team’s defensive line for a 4-2 lead. The home side were not quite down and out yet however. A furious offensive explosion saw them close the gap one final time, Joshua Williams provided an assist for Liam Martin with seven minutes remaining on the clock to set up a tense finish.

However, for all their attacking endeavour the Panthers could not find the back of the net, and were once again caught napping defensively in the dying moments, Oxford put the end result beyond doubt in the final minute of the game scoring to rubber stamp a 5-3 victory.

Captain Jacob Pattison believes a top half finish is more than achievable

Saturday’s defeat may not have been the opening result the Panthers were hoping for but starting centre and team captain Jacob Pattison was in a positive mood after the game. Reflecting on a contest his side could very easily have won Pattison remarked, “By the end of the third period we should have had a lot more goals than we actually did, we had way more shots and we were passing it better.”

He was also optimistic about the new look side gelling, with the return of key players to bolster a team packed with fresh talent. He said that “By the time we get things sorted structure-wise, I reckon we can finish in the top half of the table at least.”


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