Sheffield Steelers enjoy Challenge Cup clean sweep over Manchester Storm

YOU WOULD imagine that Ryan Finnerty and his Manchester Storm team are glad to see the back of Sheffield Steelers in the Challenge Cup.

Sheffield Steelers' winger Matias Sointu, centre, sealed his hat-trick against Manchester Storm on Saturday night with an empty net strike in the last two minutes. Picture: Dean Woolley/EIHL.

Four times the two sides have met in the group phase of this season’s competition, four times the Steelers have prevailed, leaving their rivals from across the Pennines yet to pick up a point and with little hope of qualifying for the knockout stages.

Having come from behind to triumph 7-4 in Altrincham on Friday night, a short-benched Steelers were able to produce another win on home ice 24 hours later – much to the delight of head coach Aaron Fox, who was impressed with his players’ battling qualities.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“We lost a couple of guys earlier in the day with some stuff from Friday night and then we lost Martin Latal, so we were running with eight forwards and five defenceman,” said Fox. “And that’s with Alex Graham who probably shouldn’t have been playing tonight as he’s nursing an injury as well.

Aaron Fox, on the Sheffield Steelers' bench during Saturday's Challenge Cup win over Manchester Storm. Picture courtesy of Dean Woolley/EIHL.

“But he manned up and gave us some minutes tonight which is great to see from a young kid.

“The guys just battled and it was one of those games where we needed every guy on that bench ready to bring it for 60 minutes and there were some players who played huge minutes.”

Latal had given the Steelers the lead with just 41 seconds on the clock before Curtis Hamilton levelled at 10.01.

Matias Sointu and Anthony DeLuca gave the hosts a two-goal cushion before the halfway mark, only for Scott Simmonds to halve the deficit at 39.10 on the power play.

Sointu’s second at 50.59 made it 4-2, Dallas Ehrhardt gave Storm hope at 57.10 only for the Finnish winger to seal his hat-trick with an empty net strike shortly after.