Manchester Storm 3-4 Sheffield Steelers (After Overtime)
Manchester Storm saw their horrendous overtime record continuing to plague them in what was a very controversial 4-3 loss to the Sheffield Steelers on what a what a special night for a former Storm player of the past in Brad Rubachuk, as the Winnipeg-native saw his jersey retired by the newer version of the club for the second time.
Prior to face off it saw one of the Storm’s fans favourites returning to these shores again to have his memory remembered once more, after having his jersey previously retired back in 1999 at the old Manchester Arena.
Rubachuk’s career came to a premature end in a game down in Bracknell, when the Storm were facing the Bracknell Bees and saw an accidental collision involving Bees tough guy Paxton Schulte, who was Bracknell at time and as he came out of the penalty box it saw the players come together and had the Canadian suffering a broken neck as a result.Sunday saw the popular Canadian making his first visit to the Storm’s new home at the Altrincham Ice Rink and had Captain Trevor Johnson and Paul Swindlehurst, who back in the day was a Storm fan in the Manchester Arena in the old days and between them, they helped to take the banner over to be raised and have his name and number now proudly hanging from the roof in the rink.
You could have been forgiven for thinking that there was still a game to take place too, as the whole evening was a celebration for their favourite son and had all that was part of the Sell-out crowd glad to welcome back Rubachuk to Manchester. When the puck did get dropped for the game to start, it saw Sheffield being far more the aggressors after weathering the early storm from the home side if pardon the pun.
With both teams having a player in the box for separate penalties in a minor scrum, it saw the game being played 4 on 4 and had Sheffield opening the scoring with a bit of good luck going their way, when Guillaume Desbiens face-off win headed on goal and saw the rebound off Mike Clemente’s pads falling very nicely for Levi Nelson to put home for a 1-0 Steelers lead at 4.59. Manchester then found themselves on a extended penalty kill shortly after, with both Darian Dziurzynski and Paul Swindlehurst serving their respective penalties and that handed the Steelers an extended 4 on 3 powerplay that they took full advantage of.
Mathieu Roy made it two at 6.16 as the Storm’s inability to stay out of the penalty box was costing them yet again against the Steelers, with the away side going 2-0 up and looked to have a good foundation on which build on. The Steelers then got awarded a penalty shot when Omar Pacha was deemed to have stopped a goal scoring opportunity on Levi Nelson and that saw Dean Smith awarding Sheffield a chance to make it three.
The penalty was missed by Nelson with Clemente getting the slightest of touches to see the score remaining 2-0 with the home side needing something to jolt them into life as they were looking a bit flat in the opening period, and perhaps that penalty shot miss could be used as a turning point to ignite the hosts. Manchester then got on the board through Patrik Valcak after the Czech forward battled hard at the front of the net for the loose puck that trickled behind the goalie, but he managed to do enough to force it jam it home and have the home side on the scoreboard late in the period.
Second period saw the Storm getting the most out of their powerplay and had Jack Prince netting the equalising goal at 29.40 after Matt Bissonnette saw his shot stopped by Ervins Mustokovs in the Steelers goal, but the loose puck fell around the net and was eventually turned in by Prince to see the home levelling things up at 2-2.
Sheffield went back in front at 34.31 after Dallas Ehrhardt was caught out by the corner boards behind his net when Ben O’Connor found Levi Nelson at the front of the net to put in for his second of the game and give the men in Orange a 3-2 lead. With the game being very tight it made an entertaining game and saw the third period being a bit more open at times too.
With time running down the Storm pulled their goalie and used an extra skater for a 6 on 5 advantage as they looked to find a tying goal late in the contest, and at 58.37 Patrik Valcak once again came up big for the home side and when the puck stopped near the line the Czech was first to it and netted his second of the game to make it all square at 3-3. With the third period reaching its end, it saw Manchester given a great chance to win in normal time still as Zach Fitzgerald’s emotions got the better of him and he was forced to serve a two minute penalty and have the home side on the powerplay.
Sheffield killed off the penalty as the game went into overtime and 3 on 3 hockey was now the order for the final three minutes of play and was the second time this season the sides needed extra time at Altrincham to determine a winner. With Manchester having yet to beat Sheffield in a competitive game to date since rejoining the top-flight last season, surely of all the games to snap their overtime curse and beat the Steelers, this seemed to be perfect night for them to do it in but could they was the question.
Sadly, the answer was to be a controversial no for a couple of reasons. Firstly in the lead up to the winning goal for the title chasing visitors, Levi Nelson had took Mario Trubucco’s legs completely from him accidently in the build up and wiped the Storm man out of the play and from there Jace Coyle broke away and saw his shot looking to have come off the underside of the crossbar away. However the referee Dean Smith thought otherwise and he gave the goal to the Steelers, setting off an irate Manchester side in the process.
The aftermath saw Mario Trubucco being forcefully pushed away by the linesman and needed his teammates to grab him and lead him away from the officials while the linesmen and referee conversed and led to the goal standing, much to the anger from the home crowd to the incident and saw boos raining down while celebrations were going off in the Orange corner. Storm players were left clearly seething from whole event that lead up to the goal and the winning goal itself, but there was nothing they could but watch their opponents from over the Pennines taking the spoils in extra time not for the first time in their barn.
Despite the result being not what the large majority wanted on the night in the ‘Storm Shelter’, the night in truth belonged to the man nicknamed affectionately known as ‘Ruby’ and the home crowd were delighted to get one more chance to honour their former fan favourite again and give him (another) send off.
Manchester:Patrick Valcak 2+0, Jack Prince 1+0, Connor Varley 0+1, Darian Dziurzynski 0+1, Trevor Johnson 02, Mark Heatley 01, Matt Bissonnette 01
Sheffield: Levi Nelson 2+1, Mathieu Roy 1+0, Jace Coyle 1+0, Andreas Valdix 0+1, Colton Fretter 0+1, Ben O’Connor 0+1
Manchester : Mike Clemente 35 shots 31 saves (88.6%)
Sheffield: Ervins Mustukovs 33 shots 30 saves (90.9%)
Manchester: 10 PIM – Powerplays: 2-7 (28.6%)
Sheffield : 18 PIMS – Powerplays: 2-3 ( 66.7%)