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Wednesday, 14 March, 2001, 02:52 GMT
Steelers mauled by Panthers
Sheffield's Warren Norris and Panther Greg Hadden
Sheffield's Warren Norris and Panther Greg Hadden
By BBC Sport Online's Stuart Hughes

Nottingham Panthers 5-0 Sheffield Steelers
(Play-off Group A)

The strains of their boardroom battles finally got the better of the Sheffield Steelers on Tuesday evening.

The South Yorkshire side was blanked 5-0 by the Nottingham Panthers in a humiliating performance at the National Ice Centre.

The Group A play-off tie had been in serious doubt after the Grand Slam chasers again threatened to strike - this time over the payment of bonuses for winning the Superleague, Benson and Hedges Cup and Challenge Cup.

Superleague chief executive Ian Taylor had warned he would strip the Steelers of all three titles if they boycotted the game.

Players' representatives spent much of Tuesday in talks in Sheffield with senior league officials and unions.

Steelers owner Darren Brown and the businessmen hoping to take over the club were also present.

The team finally boarded the coach to Nottingham 90 minutes late after a draft settlement was agreed.

Two bonus payments were handed over and a plan drawn up for the remaining cash.

But the deal failed to lift the spirits of Mike Blaisdell's men.

After containing their hosts in the first period, Steelers goalie Mike Torchia let Chris Baxter and Jamie Leach through in the second.

Greg Hadden pushed the Panthers even further ahead three minutes into the final period.

Nottingham's top marksman PC Drouin then took control with strikes in the 47th and 55th minutes, giving the Panthers their best night yet in their new arena.


Ayr Scottish Eagles 6-2 Manchester Storm
(Play-off Group B)

Ayr Scottish Eagles got their play-off campaign off to strong start, beating Manchester Storm 6-2.

Teeder Wynne got the Eagles off the mark after just 49 seconds with a shot from the top of the circle.

Marty Flichel drew the visitors level with a power play strike into the roof of the net at 14:30.

Ayr capitalised on their chances in the second period, with goals from Tony Hand and Mike Harding.

Curt Bowen pegged Paul Heavey's side back at 38:29 but the Eagles sealed Manchester's second successive play-off defeat in the final period.

Goals 34 seconds apart from Jonathan Weaver and Cam Bristow were followed by Mike Harding's second of the night on the power play at 53:50.

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See also:

11 Mar 01 |  Other Sports
Steelers could lose titles
10 Mar 01 |  Other Sports
Steelers Eye Grand Slam
08 Mar 01 |  Northern Ireland
Sheffield edge out Giants
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