Written by Sam Borrett (Editor) Tuesday, 23 November 2010 13:25
Features - Interviews
Nottingham Panthers, holders of the Challenge Cup, took on last year's league champions Coventry in what turned out to be one of the most entertaining and open games of the season and appeared to validate the claim that it is possible to entertain and win matches in ice hockey’s Elite League.
Following the Challenge Cup success over rivals Coventry Blaze, in a competition that Nottingham have won more than any other team in the EIHL history, clubs across the UK will sit up and take more notice of Nottingham’s approach to the sport and the success off the ice with increasing crowd numbers optimistic of witnessing the first league title since that year we must not mention.
In fact, Nottingham’s crowd accounts for around 25% of the entire league attendance and also boasts the largest away following. The on-ice product (to use the jargon) is enthralling home support more and more consistently with only the very rare exception. And with import players coming and going year on year, perhaps the most important aspect of the Panther’s roster is the core of British talent, which in many quarters is regarded as the best in the league.
This was no more evident than during the weekend games with Marc Levers notching a brace against Coventry as he continues his return from a lengthy injury lay off, Matthew Myers scoring a welcome powerplay goal and all three assisted by David Clarke, usually noted for his impressive scoring record rather than anything else.
Against Newcastle the following evening, all three added to their point tallies and Marc’s goal, his third for the weekend and second game-winner, saw him named as the Elite League player of the week.
We caught up with Marc after the Coventry match.
Freeq: You’re getting a few games under your belt after the injury, how does it feel now?
Marc Levers: It’s starting to feel good now, the first couple of weeks everything was a little stiff and not feeling right but I’m getting back into it and getting strong again.
Freeq: And in amongst the points…
Marc: Yea, thank God, it’s been slow time the last couple of weeks but it’s good, I’ve got a good understanding with Clarkie and Myersie.
Freeq: So how do you reassess your targets for the season after suffering a fairly major injury?
Marc: Everybody’s different and everyone does their own thing. I just wanted to keep as fit as possible. I know certain things have been niggling in certain areas but you just have to keep general fitness and then once you’re back, you can start to focus on doing your job, doing your role and chipping in when you can and like I say, I hope everything’s behind me in that situation and I can just keep going forward.
Freeq: And do you take this Challenge Cup competition as seriously as the league?
Marc: We want every bit of silverware as much as the other. Obviously the fans and the city want the league title which we all know, but we want that as well and we’re trying to win every game.
Freeq: How do you feel the Brit contingent at Panthers compare to teams across the league?
Marc: That’s been one of our strongest points since I’ve been here I think. We’ve had a very strong British contingent and this year’s only got better, bringing Lacho back from a year away learning his trade and Matthew obviously over in Canada and the States bringing him has strengthened us from last season and the season before.
Freeq: Matthew’s looked a different player since coming back, is all his power in the hair and any plans to grow yours like that?
Marc: (laughs) I couldn’t grow mine like that, but maybe if it helps and gives me Matthew’s powers you never know…
Ice hockey is an ultra fast, action packed, family friendly sport. For details on forthcoming games visit www.panthers.co.uk
You can purchase game and player images from Nottingham Panthers’ official photographer at www.uniqueimages.co.uk