Ice hockey: Play-offs take on new format

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The Independent Online
THE Superleague play-off semi-finals take on an American-style best-of- three format for this season, but not the final itself.

Ayr Scottish Eagles and Cardiff Devils both topped their groups and have home advantage in the first game and the third, should it be required, for their matches with Manchester Storm and Sheffield Steelers respectively.

Ayr will start favourites as they aim to complete the grand slam of all four major domestic trophies, but will not have it all their own way against a Storm side who have won both of their previous two meetings.

Steelers, meanwhile, are in their fifth successive semi-final and aiming for their fourth straight play-off championship success, but first face a repeat of last season's last-four confrontation with Cardiff, which was then a one-off game.

SUPERLEAGUE SEMI-FINALS: 18 March Ayr Scottish Eagles v Manchester Storm (1930); Cardiff Devils v Sheffield Steelers (1900). 21 March: Manchester v Ayr (1830); Sheffield v Cardiff (1830). Game three (if required), 22 March: Ayr v Manchester (1930); Cardiff v Sheffield (1800).