IT was the match-up both wanted, but the stage neither deserved.

In what was Braehead Clan and Fife Flyers' first foray into the Elite Ice Hockey play-off weekend, the Scottish contingent both harboured aspirations of outdoing the other in tonight's showpiece in the National Ice Arena in Nottingham. Instead they will be in the third-place play-off this afternoon following an afternoon where temperatures soared above the chilled ice.

While the Flyers performed credibly to lose out 1-0 to league winner Belfast Giants in the first of the day's two games, Braehead were the enigmatic force behind a mesmeric encounter against the Sheffield Steelers, with the Glasgow club going down 3-2.

Loading article content

Ahead through a Neil Trimm opener after just 3:40, Braehead's indiscipline soon saw them 2-1 down by the time the first period was over. They were also without Chris Frank, who was ejected from play along with rival Tim Spencer for their contributions in a brawl of such epic proportions it resembled two groups of blood-thirsty Glasgow drunks both fighting over the last black pudding supper.

They eventually did level through Ash Goldie in a second period marred with even more penalties, yet the energy used in getting it proved Clan's downfall, with Robert Dowd's winner for the Steelers with less than seven minutes to play leaving their crestfallen opponents spent on the ice.

"I thought it was a good game," said Clan coach Ryan Finnerty. "We just needed a bounce, but it was a tough way to lose."

Braehead's opener was the result of a lucky break. Goldie's attempted shot saw his stick snap in half, and when he retired to the bench for a fresh one, the stealthy figure of Trimm replaced him to ghost in unnoticed at the back to turn the puck beyond Frank Doyle. Slack play in defence allowed Nate DiCasmirro to level while Clan goaltender Kyle Jones failed to stop Dustin Kohn's effort from going underneath him.

Goldie spectacularly levelled with three minutes left in the second, but it was to be in vain with Dowd scoring.

Though not quite as frantic as the first encounter of the day, Flyers' defeat was one which gave head coach Todd Dutiaume much to be positive about.

With 13 wins from their last 16 games, it's understandable that yesterday's blip was not enough to take the spring from his step. "We fell at the last hurdle but I'm very proud of the guys." he said.