Manchester Storm v Sheffield Steelers – Ryan Finnerty hopes final paves way for new Elite League playoff format

RYAN FINNERTY hopes the Elite Series best-of-three final helps show that the format should be adopted by the UK’s top-flight in the future - regardless of whether his team is involved.

RING IT ON: Manchester Storm head coach Ryan Finnerty hopes to negotiate a way past Sheffield Steelers over the next three days to reach the Elite Series Final. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Most hockey leagues around the world use a best-of format for their post-season campaigns - often five or seven games - but the Elite League is unique in its use of the aggregate two-game system for its quarter-finals ahead of a traditional Final Four Weekend finale in Nottingham when both the semi-finals and final are just one game.

Finnerty takes his Manchester Storm team into battle against his former club Sheffield Steelers on Tuesday night (8.30pm) in the first leg of an aggregate playoff semi-final.

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The second leg is on Thursday with the final scheduled across three consecutive nights.

And whether his players are able to find a way past Aaron Fox’s group stage winners, Finnerty hopes this weekend’s final is the start of developing a better way for the EIHL post-season format to be structured.

“It makes absolute sense that we get away from aggregate playoffs and go to a best of three scenario instead,” said FInnerty.

“It makes sense for the top four who get that extra financial incentive with the extra home gate that they deserve through finishing there and then the race for 6, 5 and 4 goes all the way to the end in the regular season.

“And if that means you’ve got to play three-in-three then so be it - I think the players would rather that and, if you have a bad night in that first game, it doesn’t mean the series is over.

Manchester and Sheffield clash in the first leg of their Elite Series semi-ifnal on Tuesday night at 8.30pm. Picture: Dean Woolley.

“I think the fanbase would love it, commercially it makes financial sense and, from a professional standpoint as a player or a coach it makes sense.

“I really hope this three-game final shows how exciting the best-of format is, I hope we have a final that goes three games - I think the buy-in would be incredible from the fanbase.”

For details and how to pay to watch tonight’s Storm v Steelers game via live stream go HERE

In the past, one argument against using a best-of format for the post-season has been ice time availability at arenas, but Finnerty believes this is something that could be overcome.

“I believe the rewards outweigh the risks with good planning - t just makes so much sense,” he added. “The fans are always hungry at that time of the season, the buildings would be full, there’s so much energy at that time and when you can mix in potentially a game three winner-takes-everything scenario it would be such a big step forward for this league.”

For details and how to pay to watch tonight’s Storm v Steelers game via live stream go HERE

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