EHL: Nottingham Panthers beat Cardiff Devils 6-3 at the NIC
Last Updated: 06/04/13 8:01pm
Nottingham Panthers: Remain on course for treble
Nottingham Panthers moved to within one game of completing the treble after beating Cardiff Devils 6-3 in the Elite League play-off semi-finals.
The Panthers will face Belfast Giants in the final after they defeated Coventry Blaze 5-1 later in the day.
Hat-tricks from Bruce Graham and Matthew Myers saw the league and Challenge Cup winners safely home and Corey Nielson's side now await the winner of the second semi-final between Belfast and Coventry.
Devils took the lead after just 36 seconds when Max Birbraer redirected past Craig Kowalski from in front of the net.
Desperate defending during a powerplay kept the score at 1-0 and the Panthers duly got back on terms when Graham fired home.
They survived another powerplay after Kelsey Wilson was binned for hooking and went ahead when Graham scored again with a man over after Birbraer was dispatched for a high stick.
Myers flicked a low shot past Chris Whitley in the 27th minute to extend the lead but Whitley was at his best to keep the Devils in it and Chris Blight pulled one back going into the third session.
There were chances at either end but Panthers extended the lead when Myers tapped in at the back post and with Nottingham now well on top Graham bagged his hat-trick on 55 minutes.
Devils called a timeout and pulled Whitley for an extra attacker and although Mark Richardson made the extra man count in the final minute Myers had the final say by slotting into the empty net.
Giants stormed into a 3-0 lead with Daymen Rycroft netting the opener on the powerplay at 13.37 before two quickfire markers from Colin Shields (17.27 powerplay) and Craig Peacock 26 seconds later.
Greg Stewart hit a post for Giants in the second period while goaltender Stephen Murphy stood firm to deny Adam Henrich before he was finally beaten at 37.02 by teenager James Griffin.
Noah Clarke (44.48) and Peacock (58.19) notched final-period strikes as Giants, the league runners-up, set up a final date with Nottingham on Sunday.