Elite Series Day 1: Kirk at the double and Lake douses Blaze

Liam Kirk's return to Sheffield Steelers was a good one for him at the weekend (PHOTO: Dean Woolley)

The big day was finally here as Elite League ice hockey returned, in the form of a short format and there were plenty of talking points from Motorpoint Arena.

HEADLINES

  • Storm edge Blaze in overtime thriller
  • Fans left angry as Panthers-Steelers stream fails
  • Kirk strikes twice to see off Panthers
  • Muse out for Sunday game after muscle injury

PRE-GAME POLLS

GAME RECAPS

MANCHESTER STORM 3 COVENTRY BLAZE 2 (OT)

Ben Lake came up with the goods in overtime to secure an overtime win for Manchester Storm as they edged past Coventry Blaze in the opening game of the Elite Series.

This much anticipated game served up a decent afternoon’s entertainment as top flight ice hockey returned for the first time in 391 days, since the coronavirus pandemic.

The first period saw chances from both sides in the early stages, but the deadlock was only broken when Ciaran Long, back in Storm colours finished a pass from Ben Davies for the opening goal.

Ryan Finnerty’s men went two up late in the second period, taking advantage of Janne Laakkonen sitting out for hooking, with Scott Simmonds converting a close range chance from a Dallas Ehrhardt assist.

Coventry started to find their way back into the game as Simen Andre Edvardsen finished off a chance at the back door to close the gap to one five minutes into the third period.

Mike Hammond picked up the equaliser in the final couple of minutes, skating through the centre and sending the shot home to level the score and crucially, add another five minutes on the clock.

Storm left it late as Lake finally got the better of Blaze goalie Shane Owen with a minute to go of the overtime period to seal an important first win.

SHOTS ON GOAL: Storm 30 Blaze 27

GOALSCORERS:

STORM – Ciaran Long (13:01 – Davies, Simmonds); Scott Simmonds (38:27 – Ehrhardt, Critchlow PP); Ben Lake (64:14 – Klavestad)

BLAZE – Simen Andre Edvardsen (46:58 – Laakkonen, Mitchell-King PP); Mike Hammond (58:03 – Keck, Krogdahl)

POST GAME REACTION

Manchester Storm vs Coventry Blaze – Coaches Ryan Finnerty & Danny Stewart

NOTTINGHAM PANTHERS 2 SHEFFIELD STEELERS 3

Two goals from Liam Kirk helped Sheffield Steelers pick up their first points of the Elite Series as they consigned rivals Nottingham Panthers to an opening day loss.

It was a pretty even first period that lacked urgency at times as both sides felt their way into the game and perhaps shook off some cobwebs as well.

Steelers got the opening marker through a Jonathan Phillips shot from the blue line that flew into the net, beating Ben Bowns, who had to contend with Matthew Myers on his crease.

Aaron Fox’s men had to make a change in net as John Muse went off and had to be replaced by Ben Churchfield, making his debut.

Sheffield managed to double their lead immediately after when Kirk took off down the left and delivered a low shot, beating Bowns for his first goal in orange for over three years.

Panthers responded almost straight away to cut the deficit to one when Kevin Domingue sent a shot into the top shelf to pull them back.

Then, under a minute later, Austin Cangelosi found space in the slot to finish from Mark Matheson’s pass to level the game

Kirk struck again in the early stages of the third period with a terrific goal that proved to be the decisive one and despite Panthers’ best efforts, just couldn’t find a way past Churchfield.

The news was disappointing for Steelers post game when coach Aaron Fox revealed netminder Muse suffered a muscle injury and would be missing for Sunday’s game with Manchester Storm.

SHOTS ON GOAL: Panthers 41 Steelers 27

GOALSCORERS:

PANTHERS –Β Kevin Domingue (35:27 – unassisted); Austin Cangelosi (38:13 – Matheson)

STEELERS – Jonathan Phillips (33:51 – Schulze, Waller); Liam Kirk (34:56 – Mikyska, Eberle); Liam Kirk (41:02 – Dowd, Schulze)

POST GAME REACTION:

PHOTOS

(PHOTO: Scott Wiggins)
Ben Lake celebrates his overtime winner for Manchester Storm (PHOTO: Mark Ferriss)
Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers played out an entertaining game (PHOTO: Panthers Images)
Matthew Myers caused a problem for Panthers netminder Ben Bowns (PHOTO: Dean Woolley)

STAT(S) OF THE DAY

  • Liam Kirk scored his first goal for Sheffield Steelers in 1,119 days, his last coming in a 5-2 win over Cardiff Devils in March 11th, 2018
  • Until tonight, Kirk had never scored twice in one game for the Steelers

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