Ice Hockey: Steelers put in their place by Groleau goals

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THE MISERY continues for Sheffield Steelers in the Sekonda Superleague as their run of poor form continued against the side that have taken their mantle as the most potent force in the British game.

The South Yorkshire side, whose five-year domination in this country ended last season, lost their fourth game in five last night 4-3 to Ayr Scottish Eagles - Grand Slam winners and the team who have stolen their crown so impressively.

Sam Groleau's two goals, a Kevin Hoffman strike and Ryan Kummu's first of the season proved decisive for Ayr, who have yet to hit top gear this season. Sheffield's goals came from Derek Laxdal, David Longstaff and Ken Priestlay.

Elsewhere, Manchester Storm increased their lead at the top to four points - and their experiment with a lunchtime face-off proved a success as nearly 10,000 turned up at the MEN Arena to witness their 2-1 defeat of Nottingham Panthers.

Brad Rubachuk and Troy Neumeier gave Storm a 2-0 lead, before Jamie Leach broke the impressive Frank Pietrangelo's shut-out 15 minutes from time to set up an exciting finish.

In Superleague's other game, Newcastle Riverkings beat Bracknell 6-2 to earn some revenge after two defeats by Dave Whistle's Bees already this season.

Eric Royal (2), Blake Knox, Kevin Conway, Rob Trumbley and Hilton Ruggles got the goals which moved Alex Dampier's team up to fourth in the table.

There were fireworks in the lower-standard English League on Sunday night with the fixture between Whitley Warriors and Grimsby Buffaloes abandoned in the 37th minute because Grimsby did not have enough players to continue following a brawl.

The referee called over 260 minutes in penalties and sent nine players to the dressing- room. This total included four from the visitors, who had travelled with just 11 men and therefore could not serve all their penalties and leave enough players on the ice.

Whitley were leading 8-0 at the time, with Tim McKay netting a first- period hat-trick.

n Claude Lemieux scored his 300th and 301st career goals as Colorado Avalanche beat Edmonton Oilers in America's National Hockey League at the weekend.

Results, Digest, page 29