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Ice Hockey Report: Sheffield Steelers 5 Manchester Storm 7 - Thompson’s men run out of steam

Unbridled joy for Liam Kirk after scoring against Notts on Saturday - watched by a Buffalo Sabres' scout
Unbridled joy for Liam Kirk after scoring against Notts on Saturday - watched by a Buffalo Sabres' scout

Steelers’ newly-declared ambition to fill 9,000 Arena seats every match - not just the big ones - won’t have been harmed by two explosive weekend matches.

On Saturday, a goal with five seconds left handed them a 5-4 win over Nottingham Panthers.

A day later came a 12-goal thriller, edged when Manchester came back from 3-0 and 5-2 down to claim the points which may drive a nail into Steelers lingering title hopes.

Steelers, amid an exhausting schedule, had run out of steam.

Storm’s Linden Springer, Luke Moffatt and Jay Rosehill all had chances early on.

But when a low-skating Jonathan Phillips was caught in the face by Rosehill’s stick, the Manchester man was ejected. And on the five minute power play Mathieu Roy was ruthless.

Sheffield's Jonas Westerling, pictured scoring against Manchester Storm. Picture: Marie Caley

Sheffield's Jonas Westerling, pictured scoring against Manchester Storm. Picture: Marie Caley

He got the business end of two attacks to score twice inside two minutes - big, bang, thank you Manchester.

Jonas Westerling, who has been an impish influence on the side recently, added a 3-0 goal at 12;04 and it looked like the Storm fans had made a wasted journey.

How wrong could we be?

With Andreas Valdix serving a holding call top scorer Mike Hammond picked up his 65th point of the season with a goal at 17:17.

Sheffield Steelers v Manchester Storm. Sheffield's Mathieu Roy

Sheffield Steelers v Manchester Storm. Sheffield's Mathieu Roy

That breathed fresh hope into Storm’s sails.

There was a swift exchange of goals as Andrew McKinney scored for Manchester then Jonathan Phillips rifled in for 4-2.

Davey Phillips fought Ciaran Long, who had stuck his nose in when the Hull-born d-man was at odds with someone else. That scrap earned Long an instigator penalty and on the PP Roy collected his hat-trick.

At 5-2, the points again looked in Steelers’ bag. But we were wrong again.

Sheffield Steelers v Manchester Storm. Sheffield's Levi Nelson. Picture: Marie Caley

Sheffield Steelers v Manchester Storm. Sheffield's Levi Nelson. Picture: Marie Caley

Storm ramped up the pressure. Dane Byers’ blue line shot was tipped in by Hammond and then came two Storm PPs, the second one returning them a Luke Moffatt goal for 5-4.

Steelers were being over-run. Their first line units were scored on by Moffatt in 12 seconds of the third session.

A 5-5 scoreline wasn’t enough for ambitious Manchester. A brilliant back-check from Joonas Ronnberg denied Byers, but on the same play, seconds later, Moffatt collected his hat-trick, giving Manchester the lead for the first time.

The momentum had swung. That was underlined when Byers made it 5-7 with 10 minutes left. Sheffield had nothing left to give.

Sheffield Steelers v Manchester Storm. Steelers pictured celebrating Westerling's goal. Picture: Marie Caley

Sheffield Steelers v Manchester Storm. Steelers pictured celebrating Westerling's goal. Picture: Marie Caley

Sheffield Steelers v Manchester Storm. Sheffield's Jonathan Phillips

Sheffield Steelers v Manchester Storm. Sheffield's Jonathan Phillips