Three Scottish sides stumble to Elite League play-off defeats

By Craig AndersonBBC Scotland
Ice hockey

Three defeats in the Elite League play-offs saw Scottish interest ended at the quarter-final stage.

Fife Flyers and Braehead Clan had two-goal leads from their first leg matches on Saturday while Edinburgh Capitals were behind two in their match.

But Nottingham Panthers, Cardiff Devils and Belfast Giants all booked their place in next week's final four showdown in Nottingham.

For Fife, they'll feel aggrieved at not only seeing their four-goal advantage evaporate against the Panthers, but the fact they had two goals chopped off in Sunday's return will anger them.

They storming into a 4-0 lead in Kirkcaldy on Saturday, with Casey Haines, Bobby Chaumont, Podge Turnbull and Kris Hogg all finding the net.

It was the stuff of dreams as the Flyers threatened a massive shock, but it wasn't to be as the Panthers turned things around.

David Ling and Brandon Benedict scored to pull it back to 4-2, but Fife had taken the first leg, despite a broken glass panel prematurely ending the first game.

The second leg in Nottingham on Sunday saw the game begin with the remaining time from Saturday played out, but despite a valiant effort, Panthers seized the initiative.

Ling and Eric Werner had levelled inside the first period and although Fife had scored twice, both goals were controversially chalked off.

This allowed Robert Lachowicz's winner to be the decisive strike and the Panthers were celebrating their place in the last four at the expense of the gutted Flyers.

While Fife can feel hard done by, the same can't be said of Braehead Clan, who let a four-goal advantage slip from the first leg and never recovered.

Clan played well on Saturday as doubles from Brock McPherson and Ash Goldie, plus goals from Jade Galbraith, Matt Schepke and Robert Farmer should have been enough.

The fact that Max Birbraer, Chris Blight and Jesse Gimblett responded, still should have been more than enough.

However, Mark Richardson and Birbraer gave the Welsh side hope with two goals in the third period to end the first chapter with a precarious 7-5 lead for Braehead.

The roof caved in on the Purple Army on Sunday as Blight, two from Chris Jones and one from Gerad Adams soon had the Devils with a 9-7 aggregate lead, 4-0 up on the night.

Two from Goldie regained parity for Paul Gardner's team, but another two from Gimblett and one more from Birbraer meant the end of what has been a disappointing season for Braehead.

As for Edinburgh Capitals, they gave everything to try to overcome Belfast Giants, but it wasn't enough as the quality of the former Elite League champions proved decisive.

Peter Holecko's goal gave Caps hope they could cause an upset in Northern Ireland on Saturday, but Craig Peacock and Daymen Rycroft swung it in the Giants favour.

David Phillips added a third in the final period, giving Belfast a two-goal lead when the tie returned to the Scottish capital on Sunday.

Despite Brent Patry opening the scoring, the Giants turned it around again with Noah Clarke and Kevin Saurette making it 2-1 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate.

A thunderous blast from Marcis Zembergs reignited hope for the home fans, but Colin Shields made sure Belfast were that extra goal ahead.

Michal Dobron found the net late on, but Saurette applying an empty net finish ensured their place in the final four in Nottingham next weekend.

Afterwards, Edinburgh Capitals captain Martin Cingel said: "Everybody is disappointed not to go to Nottingham, but we gave Belfast a run for their money.

"The bottom line is they were the better team over the two legs, but we've come a long way since December and we should be very proud of that."

Play-off results:

Cardiff Devils 7-2 Braehead Clan (Cardiff win 12-9 on aggregate)

Edinburgh Capitals 3-4 Belfast Giants (Belfast win 7-4 on aggregate)

Nottingham Panthers 3-0 Fife Flyers (Nottingham win 5-4 on aggregate)