Nottingham Panthers withdraw from Challenge Cup as club yet to return after death of Adam Johnson

Nottingham Panthers have withdrawn from this season’s Challenge Cup and will take no further part in the competition.
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The announcement was made as the club continues to come to terms with the shock death of player Adam Johnson after a freak on-ice accident in a game at Sheffield on October 28. Panthers have yet to return to the ice, with several games already postponed until they are ready to lace up their skates. The decision to withdraw from the cup competition will mean a re-think of how the knockout stages will look.

Panthers were part of a three-team section which saw Steelers qualify, but the full schedule of round robin games had not been completed. Games against Manchester Storm on November 18 and Steelers on the 25th won’t go ahead.

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In a statement, the league said: “We’d like to thank fans again for their support at this difficult time and will provide a fresh update about fixtures in the coming days, including details about the postponed league games and rearranged dates.”

Glasgow Clan and Fife Flyers pay tribute to Adam Johnson (Pic: Derek Young)Glasgow Clan and Fife Flyers pay tribute to Adam Johnson (Pic: Derek Young)
Glasgow Clan and Fife Flyers pay tribute to Adam Johnson (Pic: Derek Young)

Steelers return to the ice for the first time since the tragedy, with a game at Manchester on Saturday, before returning to home ice to take on Coventry Blaze on Sunday.

Aaron Fox, head coach, said in an update it had been “very difficult and emotional” for the players to return to ice to begin preparing for the games.

“I’m extremely proud of how connected our group is at the moment,” he said. “There’s tons of Love, support, and plenty of tears that are being shared throughout our team and staff. We know that’s going to be something that isn’t going to go away and we will likely have for a long time moving forward.“It’s been very difficult and emotional getting back onto the ice for the guys but I feel like it’s been an important step and our players have shown some real strength and courage during the last few days being back inside the arena.

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Most of the guys have had multiple skates now which has been very positive but also know that each player and staff member is going through things on different timelines and that’s absolutely normal and okay. Each and every player has our full organisational support.“I know when we start back up there will be some difficult moments that we will need to overcome as a group and that won’t be easy.”

> This week, Glasgow Clan confirmed that forward Jordan Buesa - who iced with Fife Flyers from 2018-2020 - has had his two-way deal with Leeds Knights made a permanent move. He will now spend the rest of the season south of the border icing in the NIHL after the clubs reached an agreement.