Storm 'best placed' to overcome Steelers?
Photo: Dean Woolley
Despite a promising start to the 2021 Elite Series, the Manchester Storm ended the round-robin phase last after the tie-break, setting up a Semi-Final clash with leaders Sheffield.
Although it's a 1 vs 4 clash, the Storm had one of the better records against the Steelers in the opening four games with a 2-0-2 record. Head Coach Ryan Finnerty was a man in demand during Monday's press conference rounds, with Sheffield-based media suggesting this was the one Semi-Final opponent Steelers' Aaron Fox would have liked to avoid.
The Steelers have made a habit of scoring early goals in this series, and netting after 33 seconds in their meeting on Sunday is something Storm will have to avoid a repeat of. Against a team that has been scoring an average of five goals per game, going behind early against Sheffield is the one thing Manchester can't afford to do.
Ryan Finnerty is also going to need his penalty kill to step up if they're to have any chance of making the finals - 69.57% in the series' least efficient, with the Steelers only marginally better at 70%.
Manchester expect to have Norwegians Andreas Klavestad and Jacob Lundell Noer back available after missing Sunday's game.
Sheffield may be close to welcoming John Muse back into their lineup. Injured in the opening game, Muse has been skating and is nearing a return. Fox is however cautious about rushing him back, telling media on Sunday that he has to look after Muse's long-term health over short-term gains.