Ice Hockey: Storm salvage season in penalty shoot-out

London Knights 3 Manchester Storm 3 ot; Manchester win 1-0 on pens
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KURT KLEINENDORST, the Manchester Storm coach, fears his side would have fallen apart had they lost Saturday's Benson and Hedges Cup final. Storm triumphed courtesy of Rick Brebant scoring the only goal in a penalty shoot-out after 70 minutes of drama here.

The Superleague champions have failed to live up to their billing in recent months, particularly in Europe. Five successive group defeats have had an adverse effect on their domestic form, in which they have won three of their last 12 games. Manchester trail the leaders London by eight points with the midway point of the season approaching - although Kleinendorst is confident that this victory in the Cup will be the spark to fire his team's campaign.

"Defeat would have been absolutely devastating for us," he said. "Team morale would have been as low as it could have possibly been if we had lost. But the fact that we were able to come back and win this game in a shoot-out is huge and instead morale is about as high as it could be right now."

Manchester were 2-0 down inside the opening 12 minutes following goals from Marc Hussey and the Knights captain Rob Kenny, before coming back to tie the game with two goals in three minutes either side of the first interval.

Pierre Allard and Mike Harding levelled matters, with Storm then taking the lead in controversial fashion as referee Andy Carson appeared to call a penalty off the giant screen - an illegal move.

With four seconds left on the powerplay, Storm capitalised and looked all set to celebrate until Claudio Scremin's equaliser 46 seconds from time. After a fruitless overtime period, Manchester netminder Frank Pietrangelo saved all five of London's penalty shots to help his side to a victory which has only steeled Knights' resolve.

London coach Chris McSorley refused to comment on Carson's game-turning call, other than to say he did not wish to add to the "league's fine fund".