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Ice hockey: Braehead make play-off finals for first time in their history

BRAEHEAD CLAN sealed a place in the Elite Ice Hockey League play-off finals weekend for the first time in their history with a 5-1 over Nottingham Panthers last night.

Taking a 4-0 lead into the game from Thursday's first leg, the Glasgow club ensured safe passage to the next weekend's end of season showpiece, ironically in Nottingham, with a 9-1 aggregate win.

Despite losing the first goal of the night after just three minutes to Pat Francis, it wasn't long before Braehead's four-goal aggregate lead was restored; Ash Goldie slotting in after Ed McGrane's slapshot from range had been spilled.

The second period burst was a surreal experience with Clan hitting the upright twice, with Goldie being denied a second of the night from the latter strike with referee Tom Darnell overruling the goal line judge who buzzed for a goal.

Play was also halted for over five minutes when the girth of Clan goaltender Kyle Jones' stick was called into question by Panthers, only for the offending piece of equipment to eventually be replaced.

By this point, though, the visitors were clutching at straws as it became clear the tie was beyond them. And their fate was sealed with just 15 minutes left to play in the final period by Kevin Bergin, the Clan player/assistant coach, who led a breakaway charge down the left before slamming the puck passed Craig Kowalski in the Panthers net.

It all became too much for Matt Francis, who received a game penalty for pole axing an opponent. He wasn't the only one to let his emotions get the better of him for the visitors, who racked up an astonishing 13 penalties as their petulance came to the fore.

There was still time for it to get worse though, as Clan forward Matt Towe notched a goal on a double power play before Goldie and Joel Champagne added late scores.

Braehead will be joined by three other teams next weekend.

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