Sam Jones equalizes the Sheffield Steelers against Manchester Storm.  Peak Dean Woolley
Sam Jones equalizes the Sheffield Steelers against Manchester Storm. Peak Dean Woolley

They are in the lead after the first play-off, but not exactly in the driver’s seat.

Twice they took advantage of a two-goal advantage and twice they saw it diminish.

To be fair, they also hit the piping twice.

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The Steelers, who restored the import of John Muse between the pipes after his recovery from an injury, were without sniper Liam Kirk, who had failed to ignore a back injury.

The late start at 8:30 p.m. wasn’t perfect for both camps but with a title on the line, no one was complaining.

Storm coach Ryan Finnerty had “felt good” about his roster and they matched Sheffield’s pace and stifled their attack in the early stages.

Steeler Josh Waller grabbed attention with bursts of speed and Robert Dowd was always on the prowl to shoot and ready to defend himself with checks and blocks.

But it was the first blood for Storm, with Maxime Fortier biting behind Jérémy Beaudry and pulling between Muse’s legs.

It wasn’t what Muse’s 184 AHL game would have liked after missing almost half an hour of all previous EIHL games.

Sheffield’s forwards needed to get into difficult areas, which they hadn’t looked like ready to do, and too many confrontations were wasted.

He’s a defender who eventually entered a dangerous offensive zone to convert.

Sam Jones, who had been aggressive at the back, jumped into a pocket of space and picked his spot ahead of Sean Bonar at 6:49 pm for 1-1.

Another d-man engineered the Sheffield goal, with Kevin Schulze’s drive being redirected by Tanner Eberle.

But Schulze went from hero to sinner, he lost the puck allowing Fortier to tie the first leg 2-2.

Soldier Olden was one of Sheffield’s vanguards looking for a change of luck.

He had shot it, wide and then weakly into the goalkeeper, but Josef Mikyska’s pass brought him face to face with the goalkeeper.

After touching the puck to stabilize the puck, he expertly slapped it home for 3-2, halfway through. It was pure class.

Bonar’s post then prevented Eberle from getting his second of the night.

But Sheffield’s assertiveness paid off when a Jason Hewitt rebound was buried by Baudry for 4-2.

Frustratingly, they couldn’t keep the two-goal advantage for long as French Canadian Fortier struck in his hat-trick.

It had been a very observable five-goal break.

A one-goal fishing in a four-on-four game restored Sheffield to a two-goal margin.

Beaudry put Dowd on the left wing, he backhanded through the lunge to Eberle for his second.

A goal of precision and beauty.

Once again, Sheffield couldn’t hold the two-goal gap, with Jacob Lundell Noer scoring from close range a minute later.

Sheffield hit the post in the dying seconds.

The two sides resume hostilities on Thursday at 7 p.m.

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Source: www.thestar.co.uk
This notice was published: 2021-04-27 21:40:29