The two teams with all to play for are Nottingham Panthers and Cardiff Devils, who played on Panthers' less than perfectly prepared ice a match that was low in both scoring and penalties but high on skill. Ian Cooper's goal half-way through the match gave Devils a 1-0 win.
Sheffield Steelers, the cup holders, should have the beating of Newcastle Cobras in the second leg, but Cobras ran them close for 40 minutes, with both sides hitting the pipes in the first period, and only Ken Priestlay's tip-in gave Sheffield an edge they never relinquished, winning 6-3.
Manchester Storm took to the ice without Stephen Cooper, who will be out for six weeks following a hernia operation, and the suspended Dale Jago, but even they would have been hard pushed to stop a rampant Ayr Scottish Eagles, the newcomers who have yet to be defeated. Sam Groleau and Vince Boe put them two up in six minutes, the two-goal difference in Ayr's 4-2 win.
Basingstoke Bison and Bracknell Bees kept their game tight, tying 2-2 at the end of the second period before Kevin Conway and Chris Maybury scored to make it 4-2 to Bison. Rob Stewart made it 4-3, but with a minute to go, Steve Brown scored a power-play goal to give Bison a two-goal cushion.
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