Guildford Flames the first play-off hurdle for Sheffield Steelers to overcome

OVER THE TOP: Ben O'Connor, left, tussles with Manchester's Mike Hammond as Steelers' netminder Brad Day covers up. Picture: Mark Ferriss/EIHL.
OVER THE TOP: Ben O'Connor, left, tussles with Manchester's Mike Hammond as Steelers' netminder Brad Day covers up. Picture: Mark Ferriss/EIHL.
0
Have your say

SHEFFIELD STEELERS sealed a third-place finish in the Elite League and – with it – a play-off quarter-final showdown against Guildford Flames.

Paul Thompson’s team, missing forwards Andreas Jamtin and Mathieu Roy, backed up Saturday’s 11-2 demolition of bottom club Edinburgh Capitals with a 5-2 win at runners-up Manchester Storm last night.

Guildford’s 5-3 win at Coventry Blaze – who booked the final play-off spot at the expense of Braehead Clan the previous evening – ensured they finished in sixth spot.

Regular season champions Cardiff Devils, who finished the campaign 10 points clear of nearest rivals Manchester, will take on Coventry, while Fife Flyers will face Manchester.

Nottingham Panthers booked fourth place overall with a 4-3 win at Edinburgh last night, setting up a tantalising first-round clash with Belfast Giants.

READ MORE - Steelers’ Kirk takes step close to livuing the NHL ‘dream’

Matt Marquardt, second right, celebrates his second-minute opener against Manchester Storm. Picture: Mark Ferriss/EIHL.

Matt Marquardt, second right, celebrates his second-minute opener against Manchester Storm. Picture: Mark Ferriss/EIHL.

Eric Neiley was the star man for defending play-off champions Steelers over the course of the weekend, following up his hat-trick against Edinburgh with two goals at Manchester.

His first came in the 11th minute to double the visitors’ advantage after Matt Marquardt’s second-minute opener.

READ MORE - Report/Highlights: Steelers hit cruise control to expose frailty of ailing Capitals

Andrew McKinney halved the deficit at 16.27 before Neiley struck again on 24.14 and Tim Wallace’s 37th-minute strike stretched the Steelers’ lead further, only for Scott Pitt to hit back before the second break.

A powerplay marker from Ben O’Connor at 46.33 sealed a 34th win of the campaign.

The first leg of Steelers’ play-off tie with Guildford will be played in Sheffield at the Fly DSA Arena on Saturday, March 31 (7pm) with the return leg in Guildford the following night (6pm).