Ice hockey: Storm bring down Eagles

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The Independent Online
AYR SCOTTISH EAGLES' Nynex Arena jinx continued as they completed a miserable opening weekend in the Sekonda Superleague, losing 3-1 to Manchester Storm.

The defending champions have never won a Superleague fixture in Manchester and came away pointless again to add to their 4-2 reverse in Nottingham the previous night.

Dennis Purdie cancelled out Rick Brebant's opener for Storm before markers from Pierre Allard and Kelly Askew sealed a second straight victory for Kurt Kleinendorst's men.

In Nottingham this time last year, Ayr started with a defeat but went on to win everything. In their opening game this year, they fell behind to an early Mark Colesar goal but rallied with goals by Sam Groleau and John Parco. Nottingham equalised through Steve Roberts, though and the first period ended in deadlock.

A controversial game-winning goal by the Finnish winger, Pekka Virta, was followed by Dennis Purdie's ejection from the game for arguing about an incident behind the play.

In a thrilling final period, Ayr tried to get a power play when they had Virta's stick measured, but it was found to be legal and it was the Eagles who had to kill a penalty.

Bracknell Bees continued their winning start to the season with an impressive 5-3 home success over Sheffield Steelers. Colin Ward's empty-net goal 13 seconds from time secured the points for Bees after Steelers' Ken Priestlay hauled his side back to 4-3.

Three second-period goals separated the two sides with Barry McKinlay, Ward, Norm Dezainde and PD Druin netting for Bees. Derek Laxdal and Tony Hand were on the scoresheet for Steelers.

Bees look set to be the surprise package of the season under new coach Dave Whistle. They also won at Newcastle Riverkings, coming from behind to win thanks to Dennis Burke's winner at 54.38 seconds. PC Druin added an insurance goal late on.

Cardiff Devils began their season with a 3-1 home win over Newcastle. Man-of-the-match Steve Moria's empty-net goal secured victory for Paul Heavy's men as Riverkings went in search of an equaliser.

Vezio Sacratini fired Devils ahead and Blake Knox levelled before Moria scored the first of his brace to restore his side's advantage.