27th March 2012
Unable to attend the Flyers’ final home match of season 2011/12, I decided instead to scoot along the M8 to take in Braehead Clan’s last home one. This was, of course, their first-leg play-off quarter-final tie, hosting the Nottingham Panthers: a side who had finished a full 14 points ahead of their hosts and already had the Challenge Cup locked up in a cabinet back home.
Braehead Arena itself forms part of the Braehead Complex in Renfrewshire and, as one might expect from a venue only around 10 years old, is all rather neat. But where it really scores, over the other Scottish venues at least, is that the front row of seats are situated right up against the plexi-glass, which ensures (should you happen to sit there, as I did) that one does feel particularly close to the action.
This tie was only a few minutes in when I realised the encounter was clearly a step up in physicality from that which I had been used to witnessing at Flyers’ matches. Why this should be I am unsure. Whether more established clubs had been going a touch easy on the New Kids on the Block, or if opponents had generally been able to subdue the Flyers’ without resorting to muscle, I don’t know. What I do know, is the Braehead Arena plexi-glass this evening was regularly left shuddering alarmingly, as bodies were thwhacked against it time and again. There were also a couple of instances where players (usually, Panthers) were barged clean onto the seat of their pants, whilst all throughout proceedings little personal feuds broke out, resulting in all manner of snarled exchanges and sly stick pokes. Great Stuff.
For the first 40 minutes of the game, the Panthers looked comfortably in control of things, and even the home lot taking the lead through Jade GALBRAITH seconds into the third period, barely knocked them off their stride. But two further Clan strikes in a two minute spell close to the end was, as far as the visitors were concerned anyway, not in the script at all.
At time up, more than one of the Nottingham players wore that slightly bewildered look mugging victims display; very clearly still trying to work out how they ended up losing 3-0, a match which for long periods they seemed have under control.
And suddenly the second leg looks a rather interesting prospect.
|What is it with Ice-Hockey players and beards?|
|Action from the third period.|
|As I said, at Braehead Arena one can get close to proceedings.|
|Braehead Ice Arena|
|Braehead Ice Arena|
Braehead Ice Arena