Ice Hockey: Devils fail to keep pressure on Storm

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The Independent Online
MANCHESTER STORM showed they are capable of handling the pressure in the Sekonda Superleague title race with a solid 3-1 win over Ayr Scottish Eagles at the weekend.

With Paul Heavey, the Cardiff Devils coach, insisting Storm will feel the heat more than his own side in the run-in, the Manchester team were determined to prove him wrong. Heavey's psychology seemed to backfire somewhat as his own team lost further ground on the leaders, as they lost 4-2 to third-placed Nottingham Panthers.

Storm could not have wished for a better start against the defending champions, taking the lead inside three minutes through Brad Rubachuk.

Alan Schuler equalised midway through the second session, but Jeff Jablonski's powerplay goal put Storm back in front. Jeff Tomlinson netted the clinching goal with 10 minutes left to put Storm four points clear at the top of the table.

Prior to their victory over Cardiff, Panthers proved their worth by producing a stunning third-period comeback to earn a 6-6 draw with Bracknell Bees after overtime. Goals from Paxton Schulte, Frank LaScala and Jeff Johnstone helped Bees take a 3-1 lead. Still two behind going into the final period, Panthers went ahead for the first time with four minutes to go. Greg Hadden scored a hat-trick and Jarrett Zukiwsky netted the go-ahead goal. But an error in the Panthers defence allowed Chris Brant an equaliser with 75 seconds left before a goalless overtime period saw the sides share the spoils.

In Sheffield, London Knights - on the back of seven successive defeats - took a surprise first-period lead. It was all downhill after that, however, as the Steelers ran out 7-1 winners.