Ice Hockey: Eagles hit stormy weather

The unpredictability of the Superleague was illustrated again on Sunday as the top two clubs, Ayr and Nottingham, were beaten.

Ayr Scottish Eagles could have extended their lead at the top to a commanding six points if they had managed a seventh successive victory when they faced Manchester Storm. But the Storm, once leaders of the eight-team elite league before a recent bad run, found their form in front of a near 10,000 crowd, winning 5-3 to keep their own title hopes alive.

Manchester deserved their win as they outshot the visitors 48-36 and after a 1-1 first period, had the edge in the remaining two sessions. Brad Rubachuk, with two goals, was the Storm's top scorer.

Cardiff Devils - the champions in Superleague's inaugural season last year - improved their hopes of keeping the silverware by beating Nottingham Panthers 5-3 and moving up to third, one place above their opponents.

Cardiff took a 4-0 lead with goals from Steve Moria, Ivan Matulik, Vezio Sacratini and Steve Thornton but had to weather a comeback by the Panthers, who responded through Jeff Sebastien, Blake Knox and Jamie Leach. With just 19 seconds left Shannon Hope secured his 1,000th point for the Devils as he set up Matulik for the final goal.