Ice Hockey: Racers driven off the road

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The Independent Online
WHILE the Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Blackhawks were providing the NHL thrills over the weekend, a full domestic programme saw the second round of the Benson & Hedges Cup offer enough shocks and surprises to please those who had not travelled to Wembley Arena.

Murrayfield Racers must be sick of the sight of Sheffield Steelers. Last weekend the new boys took a point in Edinburgh and this weekend in Sheffield it was both with an 8-5 win. Twenty shots on goal in the first period alone were enough for a 2-0 lead and although Racers pulled back to 4-4 with nine minutes left, a three- goal spree in two minutes from Steve MacSwain, Les Millie and Scott Neil pushed Steelers 7-4 up and on course for their win.

The other shock was handed out by Basingstoke Beavers, hardly the sort of team you would bet on to beat Cardiff Devils. That they did was thanks to that old devil, Jeff Smith, in the Beavers goal who faced 46 shots to concede just three goals while his team-mates racked up seven.

Nottingham Panthers are currently playing their home games at Humberside thanks to a duff ice plant at their rink. They will be hoping the engineers are well on top of the task. Only 750 fans turned up and they saw Panthers beaten 9-2 by Peterborough Pirates.

On the other hand Ayr Raiders, using the ice at the Paisley rink for the first time, pulled a 1,500 crowd and a 3-2 win against rivals Fife Flyers. The game certainly was not defensive: John McCrone, of Fife, 42 shots, Moray Hanson, of Fife, two more. They just happened to be in outstanding form.

There was a bizarre moment in Whitley Warriors' 19-6 victory over Romford Raiders. A fight halfway through the game saw three Raiders and two Warriors dismissed. In addition five Raiders were sent to the penalty box to consider the error of their ways for a while. Which left just enough Romford players to face Warriors until the five could return.

BENSON & HEDGES CUP Qualifying round (Saturday): Ayr 3 Fife 2; Basingstoke 7 Cardiff 3; Billingham 12 Romford 7; Nottingham 3 Peterborough 9; Sheffield 8 Murrayfield 5; Slough 3 Bracknell 5. (Sunday): Bracknell 2 Basingstoke 8; Cardiff 9 Slough 2; Durham 8 Billingham 6; Medway 4 Nottingham 8; Murrayfield 14 Ayr 3; Peterborough 7 Humberside 6; Whitley 19 Romford 6.

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