Ice Hockey: Steer takes Eagles nearer the title

Ayr Scottish Eagles, the Superleague leaders, took another step closer to the title when they beat their nearest challengers Nottingham Panthers 8-1 yesterday.

Defeat for the Panthers meant that Manchester Storm moved back into second place. They are five points behind Eagles after a 4-0 home win over Sheffield Steelers.

Ayr made a great start going 4-0 up against the Panthers in 14 minutes with Karry Biette scoring twice and Jamie Steer's goal giving him his 100th point for the Eagles in all competitions.

Two more goals in the second period in two minutes from Jeff Hoad, playing against his former club, and Sam Groleau had the Eagles firmly on the road to victory.

Before a 12,381 crowd at the Nynex Arena, Manchester Storm went 1-0 ahead against the Steelers, courtesy of Craig Woodcroft. Then two in four minutes in the second period from Stefan Ketola and Hilton Ruggles assured them of success.

Jim Hrivnak, the Storm netminder, faced 29 shots in gaining his third successive shut-out in the last six days of league and cup competition.

Last season's Superleague champions, Cardiff Devils, had to come from behind to beat second from bottom Basingstoke Bison at home 4-3 in overtime.

The Devils were 3-2 down before Vezio Sacratini tied the scores and Peter Ekroth got the game's winning goal eight minutes and 10 seconds into overtime.

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