Sheffield Steelers are back and they're off to a decent start despite defeat to Manchester Storm
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But the covid-protected EIHL series is officially up and running - and while Aaron Fox's team couldn't deliver back-to-back wins, they often appeared within a decent chance of doing so.
On Sunday afternoon they lost 5-4 to fancied Manchester Storm, after beating Nottingham Panthers the day before.
Their only lasting disappointment is the injury sustained by goalie John Muse in the first match of the mini series.
Sheffield had most of the early puck-possession against Storm, but Ryan Finnerty's squad grew into Sunday's game.
Steelers' assistant coach Carter Beston-Will had admitted the players were tired after Saturday's late-finish, and there were misplaced passes mirroring that.
However, Sheffield were managing to get their offensive defencemen into promising shooting positions.
Jérémy Beaudry crashed in one shot, which deflected over the bar. Josef Hrabal had more luck, his slapshot from the left flank at 10:23 cannoned past Tanner Eberle's shield for 1-0.
Sheffield could have improved on that but instead they conceded.
Davey Phillips couldn't squeeze the puck to safety and centreman Scott Simmonds maneuvered the puck for Ciaran Long to tap into the near post at 12:51.
Sheffield's first power play was fizzling out into disappointment until Robert Dowd streaked down the right flank, too quick to catch; the winger backhanding under Sean Bonar's right elbow, at 15:40 for 2-1.
Adrian Saxrud Danielsen took a four minute penalty, straddling the first interval, putting the men in orange on the back foot.
And Storm were all square again when Cameron Critchlow outfoxed Ben Churchfield (2-2.)
Sheffield were losing their discipline and their defensive mojo, Ben Davies wallowing in acres of space to beat Churchfield from close range (2-3.)
With Tanner Eberle called for hooking, Dallas Ehrhardt scored with a bomb from centre blue line (2-4.)
Fox's team had conceded three goals in eight minutes.
But they narrowed their rivals' advantage to a single goal (3-4) when Liam Kirk's wrist shot sailed home, following hard work behind the goal from Josef Mikyska.
Mikyska was growing in influence and Sheffield were level at 42;28 when another new import Sondre Olden wrist shot made it 4-4.
So which team would want the win most?
Well Manchester found a goal worthy of winning any game, Maxime Fortier - one of the best playes on the ice - hitting the top corner with 53 seconds left.
A determined defensive performance had underpinned Saturday's 3-2 win over host side Panthers, who outshot the visitors 60-38.
Goalie Muse was replaced half way through with a muscle injury.
Jonathan Phillips and Liam Kirk put Sheffield 2-0 up but Kevin Domingue and Austin Cangelosi pegged them back in a three-minute salvo.
Kirk scored the winner at the start of the final period and Churchfield wasn't going to be beaten by a penalty shot with three minutes left.
Steelers play Coventry Blaze on the same pad on Wednesday (7pm.)