Manchester Storm 0-3 Sheffield Steelers

Barry Brust's return from injury clearly doesn't mean Rok Stojanovic is ready to step aside from his duties in Sheffield Steelers' net.

Thursday, 31st March 2022, 10:30 am

The 31-year-old Slovenian shut the door on Manchester Storm on Wednesday night to guide Steelers to a 3-0 victory, which narrowed the margin between them and EIHL leaders Belfast Giants to two points, with a game in hand.

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His success between the pipes meant Steelers continued their clean sweep of victories at Altrincham and can move on to the weekend with confidence.

Coach Aaron Fox said it had been a tough game: "They like to grease it up a little in this building, we didn't get a power-play which was pretty amazing.

"It was a pretty good defensive hockey game, I thought Rok was the difference, he played outstanding. We got some timely scoring as well."

Opposite number Ryan Finnerty said his side had been "the better team for the majority of the night...their goalie had a good night."

Rok Stojanovic defies a Manchester raid.

Fox had picked the same team that took maximum points from last weekend's games, meaning there was no place for Nico Feldner and Tommaso Traversa.

The side had banged in no fewer than 22 goals in their last three matches in the North West but they had to survive an early penalty when Adrian Saxrud-Danielsen was called for cross checking.

After doing so, they powered in a string of shots on Jason Bacashihua's goal.

Matias Sointu had the clearest opportunity, Sheffield then hit the ironwork, before a goal arrived on a breakaway at 16:28, executed by super-quick Tanner Eberle who fired it low on the goalie's blocker side, for his 25th of the domestic season.

Job done for Steelers at Manchester.

A save from Stojanovic - watched from the bench by the other import netminder, Brust - ensured Sheffield took the lead into the first interval.

Sheffield had outshot Manchester by a single attempt on goal and knew they would have to work hard to protect the lead.

Marco Vallerand almost doubled the visitors' advantage but Taylor Thompson blew a chance to level at the other end as Manchester began to sustain pressure.

Sam Jones's holding penalty at the halfway point meant more defending to do and that was pretty much the emphasis in a 0-0 period.

Shut out for Rok Stojanovic, right.

Sheffield then took two consecutive minor penalties.

But they blanked Storm's troopers and went 2-0 up when Robert Dowd, who can do no wrong in front of goal right now, scored from Vojtech Polák, with 12 minutes remaining, right in front of the travelling fans in the sparse crowd.

While Dowd is riding such good fortune right now, Marco Vallerand is experiencing little luck with his shot striking Storm's post.

But the game was wrapped up nicely by the hard-working Polák who ended Storm's chances at 58:18.

Fox is hoping that Glasgow Clan can upset the form book, when they play Belfast on Friday.

On Tuesday it didn't go so well; Clan lost 7-1 at home to Giants.

In Northern Ireland tomorrow tonight (Friday) though the Scots will hope to spring a surprise.

The Sheffield coach said that normally Clan "are not an easy team to play against; you have got to be ready to get to the hard areas against that hockey team and we're hoping for some Glasgow success for sure."