Sheffield Steelers top Elite Series group on high note to set up quick playoff renewal with Manchester Storm

SHEFFIELD STEELERS ended the group phase of the Elite Series as clear winners and on a high note, their 5-3 win over Manchester Storm meaning the two sides will meet again in the two-legged playoff semi-finals on Tuesday.

Action from Sheffield Steelers v Manchester Storm on Sunday. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Aaron Fox’s team had already secured top spot despite losing 5-4 in overtime to Nottingham Panthers on Saturday night, a 6-3 win for Coventry Blaze over Manchester earlier in the day ensuring the Steelers couldn’t be caught.

On Sunday night, the Steelers were ahead after 33 seconds through Kevin Schulze as he beat Sean Bonar. Ryan Finnerty’s team equalised at 3.15 thanks to Tyson Fawcett, before a Liam Kirk goal at 9.36 put the Steelers back ahead. The period ended tied, however, thanks to in-form Ciaran Long levelling at 12.46.

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Goals from captain Jonathan Phillips and defenceman Sam Jones - both picked in the Great Britain squad for next month’s World Championships along with Kirk - then gave the Steelers a two-goal lead by the end of the period.

Defenceman Sam Jones, celebrates his goal against Manchester Storm. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Knowing a regulation win would see them avoid the Steelers in the playoffs, Storm made it a one-goal game again through Dallas Ehrhardt at 51.15, but netminder Ben Churchfield stood tall for his team, with Phillips grabbing his second of the night in the 58th minute with an empty netter.

On Saturday, Tanner Eberle put the Steelers ahead after only 12 seconds, doubling his tally at 7.11 before Kirk piled on the early agony for the Panthers at 10.39.

Brett Perlini got Nottingham on the board in the 15th minute, Austin Cangelosi making it a one-goal game just before the halfway mark before the ‘hosts’ were level through Ollie Betteridge with just 54 seconds of the second period remaining.

Eberle’s hat-trick strike at 43.53 saw the Steelers forge ahead but the Panthers were equal to the task, levelling through Dominic Talbot-Tassi on the powerplay at 51.41.

Tanner Eberle scored a hat-trick on Saturday, but still ended up on the losing side against Nottingham. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Only 17 seconds of three-on-three overtime had elapsed when Christophe Boivin slotted home the game-winner from Cangelosi’s pass.

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