Manchester Storm 4 Sheffield Steelers 3: Sheffield lose ground in early title race after defeat over Pennines

Sheffield Arena may have been survived the recent the floods - but a Storm was waiting for its hockey team over the Pennines.

Sunday, 10th November 2019, 8:12 pm
Updated Sunday, 10th November 2019, 8:13 pm
Melee in front of Steelers goal at Manchester

Steelers suffered their third consecutive defeat this season at Manchester Storm on Sunday night.

The team had previously leaked goals there in the Challenge Cup - this weekend's 4-3 defeat came in the League.

Sheffield have suddenly lost ground in the title race, as early as it is in the programme.

Tomas Duba saves as Storm up the pressure.

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They have been beaten in their last three EIHL games.

Marco Vallerand, back in the side after suspension, was one of several Steelers testing Matt Ginn in the Storm goal early into the game.

Their best chance fell to John Armstrong but he could not connect with the puck, on the game's first power play, with the net at his mercy.

And Tanner Eberle was defied by Ginn after breaking clear.

But a Power Play finally delivered Steelers' opening goal, at 17:20.

Aaron Brocklehurst banged the puck through the crowd and into the net, possibly with a touch en route from Anthony DeLuca.

If it stands on the record books, it will be his first Steeler goal.

Steelers had played well 24 hours earlier in the 4-3 loss at Cardiff Devils, and they looked in good shape as the opening period finished.

They were determined to defend hard, too against Ryan Finnerty's men who had lost their last four league games.

Mikko Kuukka showed his displeasure with Dallas Ehrhardt after he'd challenged goalie Tomas Duba, and earned a roughing minor.

DeLuca, playing on a line with Brendan Connolly and Vallerand, thought he wrapped the puck past Ginn for a second away goal, but the officials denied his claim.

Manchester levelled at 25;13, when Mario Puskarich - one of Aaron Fox's players during their time at Medvescak Zagreb, netted, the assist going to Layne Ulmer.

Then each side traded a goal within one explosive minute.

Adam Hughesman gave Storm the lead with a deflection, but they were pegged back again straight away by Connolly's memorable, individual effort at 31:06, scoring backhand off a rebound.

It was entertaining stuff - although a stream of penalties which followed prevented both teams from building on the momentum before the break.

Eberle has been without a goal in the last half a dozen games and he was unlucky not to get on the board after out-smarting his marker and firing at Ginn.

But it was Storm who sealed the deal, Ulmer scoring at the back post, five minutes into the last session.

Three minutes later they were 4-2 up.

With Connolly in the penalty box, left winger Hughesman rattled in his second of the night.

DeLuca scored a late consolation, but Sheffield had again found out they just don't have what it takes to win in Altrincham.