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Braehead Clan lose out on final place with 3-2 defeat by Sheffield Steelers

Braehead Clan lost out on a place in the ice hockey Elite League play-off final after a tumultuous 60 minutes in Nottingham, where they literally went down fighting 3-2 to the Sheffield Steelers.

Neil Trimm put Clan ahead, only for their second to bring them level through Ash Goldie after the Scottish club lost their way at the end of a first period which was marred with punch-ups and penalties, Braehead's Chris Frank evening coming to an early end as a result of the former.

It means Ryan Finnerty's side will now go into Sunday's third-placed play off in an all-Scottish affair with Fife Flyers, while Sheffield and Belfast Giants will fight it out in the final.

The match started off with Frank smashing opponent Maxime Lacroix down on to the ice, causing an eventual break in play for the latter's blood to be scraped off the dent in the ice where his nose crashed into.

More carnage was to follow as Frank, along with Sheffield's Tim Spencer, both found themselves ejected from play shortly afterwards as the two outfits attempted to recreate a battle scene from Braveheart, with every player bar both netminders involved as punches went flying in all directions, leaving mounds of tossed gloves, pads and helmets strewn across the rink.

Amid the boxing, there was some hockey played. Clan took an early lead after just 3:40. Goldie snapped his stick in an attempt shot, only to return to the bench to retrieve a fresh one.

His replacement Trimm ghosted on to the ice unnoticed by the Steelers defence just in time to receive a Kevin Bergin cutback, drag it to his left and hook it round Sheffield netminder Frank Doyle.

The lead only lasted around seven minutes, Clan goaltender Kyle Jones parrying a low shot straight into the path of Nate DiCasmirro who slotted in from two yards out.

Steelers' second came four minutes before the first break as Dustin Kohn's shot uncharacteristically went through Jones.

The second period was pretty much played in the Sheffield defensive third as an endless amount of penalties rewarded Clan with a numerical advantage, swathes of possession, and for the most part little else.

Lee Esders and Ed McGrane both somehow missed a gaping goal, with several others in white and purple finding little joy, even at one point when they had a 5-3 man advantage with one of the Steelers players without a stick.

Yet the leveller eventually came just when everyone thought the English club had weathered the storm; McGrane's cutback was met first time by Goldie and his rocket thundered beyond Doyle on the power play to send both teams into the final period all square.

LaCroix hit Jones' right-hand post with nine minutes left on the clock in the final period, yet it was one of only a few chances they were afforded by a prudent Clan, rejuvenated but clearly exhausted by their efforts in the middle third.

But despite being pegged back for much of the period, it was the Steelers who stole the show and robbed Braehead of a place in the final against Belfast.

Kohn cut back a pass to the edge of the crease for Robert Dowd to compose himself and flick the puck high beyond Jones' grasp.

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