The Stena Line Belfast Giants will play the Cardiff Devils in the Challenge Cup Final in Cardiff on Sunday 4th March.
The Giants advanced to next month’s showpiece event in Ice Arena Wales thanks to a 12-7 aggregate win over the Nottingham Panthers.
Two goals each from Sebastien Sylvestre, Blair Riley and Jonathan Ferland plus a final period strike from Colin Shields gave the Giants a place in the Challenge Cup Semi-Final.
Five Goal First Period
The Nottingham Panthers got off to the best possible start when David Clarke opened the scoring at 4:43, assisted by Mark Derlago and Luke Pither.
Sebastien Sylvestre equalised for the home side at 8:46, assisted by Brendan Connolly, before Blair Riley edged the Giants in front on the powerplay at 13:11.
Mike Vaskivuo levelled on the night for the Panthers at 13:36, assisted by Yann Sauve, with David Clarke giving the away side a 3-2 lead at 14:21, assisted by Mark Derlago and Tim Billingsley.
Panthers Double And Giants Response
Zack Phillips struck on the powerplay at 23:31 to give the Nottingham side a two goal advantage on the night. Brett Perlini made it a one goal game on aggregate with the Panthers fifth goal of the game at 35:24., assisted by Alexander Mokshantsev.
Coach Keefe called a timeout to allow his side to regroup and the Giants responded right away. First, Blair Riley fired home from close range, assisted by David Rutherford, at 37:33.
Sebastien Sylvestre netted his second of the game four seconds from the end of the middle period, deflecting Colin Shields’ shot into the Nottingham net.
Giants Advance To Final
Jonathan Ferland guaranteed the Giants a place in the final with two shorthanded empty net goals inside 59 seconds with the Nottingham Panthers pulling their nerminder in favour of the extra outskater while on the powerplay.
Stena Line Belfast Giants (12) 7-6 (7) Nottingham Panthers (Aggregate Score in Brackets)
Giants Man of the Match:
#22 Kevin Raine