Nottingham Panthers will be looking to send Elite League legend David Clarke out in style in the club’s final home game of the season.
Tonight marks the final regular home game of the season for the Nottingham Panthers as they take on the Fife Flyers, a team they are yet to beat.
Panthers are hoping to capitalise on a successful three-point-weekend, beating Sheffield (3-2) and narrowly losing to second place Manchester in overtime (4-3).
A win tonight will give the team one final boost ahead of the Playoffs weekend, which will be Nottingham’s last chance at silverware this season.
But the big story of the night is that of British ice hockey legend, David Clarke.
After accumulating in excess of 700 points during his time on the ice, David has decided to hang up his skates at the end of this season.
Clarke has been described by Jonathan Phillips, captain of arch rivals Sheffield Steelers as: “A leader, a captain and at the time of need the go to goal scorer in their organisation.”
Philips also reflected on Clarke as an opponent and fellow GB player: “As an opponent a fair but tough competitor. As a team mate (with GB) a loyal hard working and committed player who always put the team first.”
Clarke has been a stalwart member of the team since his signing from Guilford at the start of the ’03-’04 season (bar a brief stint at Italian team Alleghe in ’07-’08).
There is no doubt that Clarke has been integral to the Panthers to the top. “The Panthers success in recent years tied in with David being in great form and scoring goals for fun”, said Jonathan Phillips.
Awards never stopped coming for Clarke, winning in excess of 30 medals and trophies whilst playing at both club and international level.
Clarke was a vital member of the Panther’s roster during the incredibly successful ’12-’13 season when the team won the Elite League title, Challenge Cup and Playoff finals (winning the latter two trophies for the third year in a row).
He adopted a player/coach role in 2012, helping head coach Corey Neilson steer the Panthers to victory in the Continental Cup, a second-tier trophy taking in teams from all over Europe.
The win landed Nottingham a place in the Champions Hockey League, pitting them against the very best teams in Europe.
The tournament saw Panthers play arguably the biggest games of their 72 year history, defying the odds and progressing to the last 16, although sadly loosing to Swiss giants ZSC Lions.
There can be no denying the impact David Clarke has had on the team and of course, the fans.
“He will be missed by Nottingham and the National team, opponents however will raise a glass and say about time.” Jonathan Phillips.
Ice hockey statistics website eliteprospects.com lists Clarke as a ‘Cult/star player’, I’m sure as his jersey is retired this evening, members of the Clarke cult will be proudly out in force.