British players scored four of Sheffield Steelers’ five goals in their 5-3 victory over Manchester Storm in the Elite Series.
The two-legged semi-finals, which get under way from Tuesday, will see Sheffield face Manchester and Coventry play Nottingham.
Liam Kirk got one of the assists as Kevin Schulze gave the Steelers the perfect start after 33 seconds, but Manchester quickly hit back with Craig Peacock setting-up Tyson Fawcett (3:15).
Kirk then scored his 10th goal of the tournament – assisted by David Phillips – at 9:36 to put Sheffield ahead again, before Dallas Ehrhardt fed Ciaran Long to score on the powerplay (12:46) to tie the game at two.
GB captain Jonathan Phillips – playing in his 901st game for the Steelers – made it 3-2 at 26:37, assisted by Robert Dowd and a powerplay goal by Sam Jones (36:42) gave Sheffield a two-goal lead at the second intermission.
Ehrhardt brought Manchester to within one at 48:45 but Phillips wrapped the game up with his second of the night with an empty-net goal (57:35).
Nottingham Panthers beat Coventry Blaze 4-3 after overtime in the day’s opening game.
Luke Ferrara’s one-time blast from the top of the left circle put the Blaze ahead on the powerplay (14:23), but Nottingham hit straight back through Christophe Boivin’s eighth goal of the tournament 34 seconds later (14:57).
Coventry went ahead for a second time – again with the man advantage – when Mike Hammond netted in the closing stages of the first period (19:24).
Ollie Betteridge scored his second goal in as many days as his shot was turned into his own goal by Nicolai Bryhnisveen (24:31), with assists going to Robert Lachowicz and Lewis Hook, who was named in a senior GB World Championship squad for the first time on Thursday.
Great vision from Hammond – his second assist of the game – set-up David Clements at the backdoor to put the Blaze in-front once more (35:02), but the Panthers equalised for a third time through Kevin Domingue (56:06).
Nottingham won it in the extra period for the second day in succession as Brett Perlini and Domingue combined for Mark Matheson to secure his side the extra point (61:37).
Four teams – Coventry Blaze, Manchester Storm, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers – are competing in the 2021 Elite Series at the National Ice Centre.
The event has been organised under the government’s Elite Sport Guidance, with regular testing and a full covid-19 protocol in place.
The tournament – supported by Ice Hockey UK – is forming part of Great Britain’s preparations for the upcoming World Championship in Latvia.
All games are available to watch on a live stream – click here for more details and to purchase the webcasts.
Photo credit: Mark Ferriss.