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Ice hockey: Blaisdell issues a Storm warning

MIKE BLAISDELL, the Nottingham Panthers coach, believes Manchester Storm could struggle to meet the newly imposed salary cap for next season's Sekonda Superleague.

In an effort to make teams more financially viable and to prevent them from going bust - with Sheffield Steelers' forthcoming liquidation a case in point - Superleague officials have imposed a pounds 500,000 limit on wages for next season. But Blaisdell realises the financial managers of the league's eight teams will have difficulty this summer in trying to sign key players and keep within the wage structure.

Storm are believed to have the largest player budget in the league and Blaisdell acknowledged their dilemma in the aftermath of his side's 2- 1 Superleague Play-off Trophy defeat to Cardiff Devils at the MEN Arena in Manchester on Sunday night. He said: "I don't know how many slots they [Storm] have left but I would imagine they are either going to sign some very cheap guys or they won't be under the wage cap.

"If they've already signed 10 of their premier players then I can guarantee those guys aren't going to come back to Manchester with a pay-cut," he said. "As for ourselves, you can take a chance, go with a shorter bench, sign some good players and pay them good money and hope you don't pick up a lot injuries."

Ivan Matulik's two goals for the Devils in the Play-off Trophy final eclipsed Mark Kolesar's consolation for Nottingham, who suffered another night of agony after losing to the Sheffield Steelers in the Challenge Cup final two weeks ago.