Sheffield fasten on to Cardiff's track

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The Independent Online
Ice hockey

Cardiff Devils' 6-3 win over Ayr Scottish Eagles, won with a 4-1 third period, saw the Welsh team continue to head the Superleague table - but Sheffield Steelers are three points behind with two games in hand. With Newcastle Cobras gaining only a point at Basingstoke Bison (if the score is level at the end of 60 minutes, sudden death overtime sees the scoring team get the win and another point, and Bison won 6-5), the title now looks like a two-team race.

Sheffield were also reminded of their vulnerability on Sunday when they welcomed Basingstoke. When the teams met earlier in the League, Bison became the first side this season to win at the Arena. They came close to performing the double. Sheffield took the first period 3-1, with goals from Jamie van der Horst, Tim Cranston and Tony Hand, but Kevin Conway made it 3-2 in the second. Sheffield extended their lead to 5-3 in the third, but Blake Knox made it 5-4 and with seconds to go Bison pulled the minder Richard Wallace in search of the levelling goal without avail.

Manchester Storm and Ayr played as close a match in terms of scoreline, Manchester winning 2-1 with a goal seven minutes from time by Nick Poole, but 14 major penalties called in the second period and a post-hooter explosion saw three players expelled.

Reports of Peterborough Pirates' demise were somewhat exaggerated. After failing to fulfil their post-Christmas fixtures, a local businessman stepped in with funding and the Premier Division team played this weekend with a 14-year-old minder, David Whitwell, and just 10 other players. They lost 14-4 to Telford and 6-3 to Slough.

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