Ice Hockey: Steelers squander chance to take Superleague lead

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The Independent Online
MIKE BLAISDELL'S honeymoon period as coach of Sheffield Steelers came to an end with a 6-3 defeat by Ayr Scottish Eagles in the Superleague.

After three successive victories since Blaisdell took over the helm, Steelers had the chance to go to the top of the table following London Knights' 3-3 draw against Bracknell Bees earlier on Sunday. But Steelers failed to take advantage. Nothing went right for them from the start as Dino Bauba, Eric Murano and Yves Heroux gave Ayr a 3-1 lead in the first period at Centrum.

A goal from Derek Laxdal - in his last game before joining Odessa, in Texas, in the Western Professional League - and a second of the night for Teeder Wynne, brought Steelers back to 4-3, but a double by Shawn Byram in the third-period sealed their fate.

London are two points clear of Sheffield, with Bracknell a further point adrift in third place but they have four games in hand. Knights opened a 2-0 lead over Bracknell at the London Arena but the Bees were level with 10 minutes to play. Claudio Scremin edged London back in front before the Bees forced overtime through Denis Chasse, but there was no scoring in the extra session.

Manchester Storm returned to form with a 5-2 victory over Nottingham Panthers at the MEN Arena in front of 9,580 fans. Jeff Johnstone, Rick Brebant and Jeff Tomlinson put Storm 3-0 up early in the second period before Panthers hit back through Marty Flichel and Jamie Leach. Manchester had drawn two of their previous three games but Pierre Allard and Kelly Askew made sure they were not caught this time.

Cardiff Devils also won 5-2 as Newcastle Riverkings suffered their fifth successive defeat despite a tense finish at the Ice House. Devils led 2-1 from the first period when Jason Stone and Steve Thornton scored for Cardiff either side of a Hilton Ruggles goal, but with just over four minutes left the game came to life.

Vezio Sacratini and Joel Poirier traded goals before Ivan Matulik and Thornton, who scored into an empty net, finished off Riverkings' hopes of a revival.