Sheffield Steelers 8 Manchester Storm 3 (aggregate: 13-7) - Steelers to face Nottingham Panthers in final

Sheffield Steelers' mission to become 2021 EIHL play off champions remains confidently on course.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 9:36 pm
Sheffield Steelers' Jonathan Phillips draws a penalty against Manchester Storm. Picture: Mark Ferris

They will compete against a resurgent Nottingham Panthers for the mini-season title after comprehensively completing the semi final task against Manchester Storm.

The best-of-three Final starts on Saturday (7pm).

On Thursday night, Sheffield outclassed Storm, winning the second leg 8-3 to record an aggregate score of 13-7.

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The previous five games between the Roses rivals had been pretty tight but this one was always going Steelers' way.

Liam Kirk remained a scratch from the line up, a fitness test decision made only at warm-up and a blow to the whole line up.

Losing the skilled forward seemed to stimulate the offensive defencemen on the Steelers' roster, though.

Josef Hrabal roamed forward for a wrap-around attempt and then tried a cheeky shot from his own half.

And when Tanner Eberle, who scored twice in the first leg, walloped the puck off goalie Sean Bonar's shoulder, Adrian Saxrud-Danielsen, fired home for 1-0.

Then Bálint Pákozdi, who has been on the fringes of action during this tournament, carved himself a place in the club's history by propelling the puck to Alex Graham to double Sheffield's lead. A lovely moment for the fourth line.

Steelers were creative on the puck and responsible off it.

And when the awesome speed of Jonathan Phillips drew the game's first penalty, Sheffield made it 3-0, Eberle tipping in a Josef Mikyska drive, off the post.

The Altrincham side had had a couple of half chances via Martin Gran and Joe Hazeldine but John Muse in net had only routine saves to make.

At the opposite end, Stephen Murphy was brought on to take over from Bonar, who had been hurt in the Phillips' penalty incident.

That enforced move stirred Storm on and when Soldre Olden took a high sticks call, Cameron Critchlow scored on the power play.

Steelers tried to re-group with Graham bobbling the puck on the top of Murphy's goal.

Ryan Finnerty's men were physical and direct, with Muse having to glove save Jacob Lundell Noer.

However Murphy was caught out at 27:16. With Phillips driving the net, the substitute goaltender was looking in the wrong direction as Sondre Olden stroked the puck in for 4-1.

Jérémy Beaudry stopped a 2-on-1 Manchester breakaway from causing any damage before Josh Waller cleverly back-handed number five home at the midway point.

It looked like the orange shirts were home and hosed.

When a messy fight erupted in the Sheffield goalmouth, nobody really benefited, other than Muse who must have enjoyed letting his fists fly.

With a 10-5 overall advantage Steelers could have done without penalty trouble.

They had a long 5-on-3 kill to navigate, which they did with some style.

Steelers weren't looking to ease off, Beaudry hit the outside of the post on one raid.

A hard-to-fathom refereeing call on Olden - his third penalty - handed Storm a 5-on-3 advantage again, Tyson Fawcett narrowing the evening's score to 5-2.

But Connolly's short-handed surge up the right flank ended with a neat pass to Eberle for Steelers' sixth of the night.

The goals continued unabated, Storm with another Fawcett strike, Olden with the 10th goal of the match and then a blue line blast from Beaudry.

Muse was then rested with Ben Churchfield taking on the goaltending duties.

Jason Hewitt hit the pipework with two minutes left of a devastating all-round display by Steelers.