Manchester Storm 4 Sheffield Steelers 5 - Plenty to play for after frantic semi-final opener

SHEFFIELD STEELERS will carry the slenderest of leads into tomorrow’s Elite Series semi-final second leg after beating Manchester Storm 5-4 at the National Ice Centre last night.

ON THE SPOT: Jeremy Beaudry pounces on a rebound to score Steelers' fourth goal against Manchester on Tuesday night. Picture courtesy of Dean Woolley.

Steelers had mixed injury news before the face-off, the positive feeling enjoyed by first-choice goaltender John Muse being available for the first time since getting injured in the opening night clash Nottingham Panthers, tempered by the announcement that GB international forward Liam Kirk wouldn't be available due to a back injury.

Steelers fell behind at 8.04 when Maxime Fortier poked home through John Muse’s legs, but were level before the end of the first when Sam Jones took his time to fire past Sean Bonar.

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The Steelers then edged ahead Tanner Eberle’s tip-in at 21.40, but the impressive Fortier ensured his team were level again four minutes later.

OPENING SALVO: Sam Jones, far right, equalises for the Steelers towards the end of the first period. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Sondre Olden then showed neat hands to back-hand over Bonar’s right shoulder at 32.22, the Steelers doubling their lead shortly after when Jeremy Beaudry was quickest to react to a rebound from Bonar off Jason Hewitt’s initial shot.

The period ended with just the one goal between the teams, though, when Fortier fired his hat-trick strike past Muse at 38.17.

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The two-goal lead was again quickly halved, though, this time Jacob Lundell Noer reacting quickest to back-hand a rebound through Muse at 50.40.

Afterwards, Steelers' head coach Aaron Fox admitted his players hadn't produced their best, but was happy to take any kind of advantage into the second leg.

"There were a lot of pucks bouncing all over the place," said Fox. "I didn't feel like we played our best 60, we turned too many pucks over in the neutral zone, gave them a couple of counter chances that we probably don't need to give up.

"But, all in all, our boys battled, we competed, ound the net five times and we'll take the goal lead into Thursday. Anytime you can get an advantage in this aggregate format, we;ll take it."