Ice hockey: Ayr falter in test of endurance

Nottingham Panthers will meet Cardiff Devils in the Superleague championship final on Saturday, but the Panthers only got there after hours of toil against Ayr Scottish Eagles.

With 80 seconds left, Ayr led 5-2 and their management were, presumably, confirming the hotel booking for next weekend. Then two goals from Mike Bishop and one from Neil Morgan tied the score 5-5 and sudden-death overtime beckoned.

In the past, if no goal was scored in 10 minutes of overtime the match was decided on penalties. But under the new play-off format an infinite number of 10-minute periods of overtime had to be played to decide the match.

Including breaks for resurfacing the ice, a game that started at 6.40pm and should have been over by about 9.45pm kept going. And going... Finally, with the game clock showing 1hr 15min 49sec and the spectators' watches reading 11.15pm, Jeff Hoad scored a short handed goal in the sixth period of overtime to win the longest ever ice hockey game played in Britain.

If he could have waited another 82 seconds he would have broken the National Hockey League record set in 1936, when Mud Bruneteau's only goal of the game saw Detroit Red Wings beat Montreal Maroons.

The earlier semi-final was settled more hastily. Sheffield Steelers' 5-2 win over Cardiff Devils was settled in the second period, when the first of Ken Priestlay's two goals gave Sheffield a 3-1 advantage.