Groundhog day as Sheffield play Manchester again in Cup combat

After four straight wins against Manchester Storm in the Challenge Cup qualifying group, Sheffield Steelers will once again find themselves facing the same opposition in the quarter finals.
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Steelers' 4-2 victory at iceSheffield on Wednesday saw them go through as top seeds.

In a group that had earlier seen Nottingham Panthers pull out of the running, Storm also qualified for the knockout stage games, at Altrincham on December 7 and Broughton Lane on December 20.

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It feels like an overload of cross-Pennines fixtures, but Sheffield can at least go into the next stage with confidence - they have scored 20 goals against Manchester so far this season, conceding only seven.

Alex Oldale under pressure at iceSheffield Pic Dean WoolleyAlex Oldale under pressure at iceSheffield Pic Dean Woolley
Alex Oldale under pressure at iceSheffield Pic Dean Woolley

Storm certainly have a point to prove in the competition, they have lost all but one of their six matches.

Wednesday night, with its modest crowd of 1,285, was a night for the Brits to show off their wares.

Brandon Whistle scored an all-British goal with Sam Jones and Cole Shudra staking assists.

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It was a good night all round for Shudra, who collected two assists for the first time this season.

Sam Jones and Cole Shudra in crazy man of the match celebration Pic Dean WoolleySam Jones and Cole Shudra in crazy man of the match celebration Pic Dean Woolley
Sam Jones and Cole Shudra in crazy man of the match celebration Pic Dean Woolley

Storm had handed a professional debut to Barnsley's Alexander Oldale, the 6ft 3ins former Kirk Balk Academy student, who had five years playing at iceSheffield in the junior system.

Oldale and Jones were awarded their team Man of the Match awards.

Mark Simpson had started the night off with a 10th-minute goal, which was neutralised by Loren Ulett's reply.

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Whistle's strike on 18 minutes was similarly watered down by Santeri Haarala's equaliser.

Mikko Juusola on the puck Pic Dean WoolleyMikko Juusola on the puck Pic Dean Woolley
Mikko Juusola on the puck Pic Dean Woolley

Steelers showed their third period power to gain maximum points, Brett Neumann and Dominic Cormier doing the damage.

Aaron Fox, the Steelers' coach, characterised the match as "a little bit ugly" but was happy to have emerged with first seeding and applauded Oldale's performance in the opposition crease.

Storm boss Matt Ginn was relieved his side's two goals were enough to help get through to the quarter-finals.

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Ginn said Oldale, at 18 years of age, had a bright future and had held his own against Sheffield.

Sam Jones man of the match Pic Dean WoolleySam Jones man of the match Pic Dean Woolley
Sam Jones man of the match Pic Dean Woolley

While Sheffield were playing in the Cup, EIHL title rivals Cardiff Devils were hammering Dundee Stars 5-2 in Scotland.

The win puts them level on points with Sheffield at the top, although the Welsh side has played one game more.

It was a thoroughly miserable evening for Dundee - Storm's two goals forced their exit from the Cup.

Meanwhile, Kameron Kielly, who left Steelers recently, scored an assist on his debut for South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL.