AN extraordinary refereeing error robbed MK Lightning of the chance to close the gap further on English Premier League leaders Basingstoke Bison on Saturday.
After initially agreeing that Blaz Emersic’s goal was good, dual referees Dan Boardman and Tom Pering changed their minds under protest from Bison goalie Stevie Lyle, who belatedly claimed that the puck had entered the goal through a hole in the side netting.
It was a desperate move by Lyle who was clearly beaten by Emersic’s shot which went into the goal between his body and the pipe – not through the side netting. In addition, the hole he claimed was the culprit was higher than the height of Emersic’s shot.
In the event Lightning went on to win the game 4-3 on penalty shots, with Kamil Tvrdek again proving the hero of the hour with the only successful conversion. But it meant that Bison picked up a point which they possibly didn’t deserve.
In probably the best game of the season at Planet Ice, the hosts were every bit as good as the English Premier League leaders, but must still make do with fourth place in the table.
However, Lightning, who were without the suspended Nick Chinn, injured Chris Wiggins and Adam Brittle – who was unavailable for personal reasons – were unable to follow up with a win at Peterborough Phantoms when they went down 7-4 on Sunday.
Nick Poole opened the scoring on 9mins 11secs against Bison when he followed up after Adam Carr’s first shot was blocked but not held by Lyle.
A good move from Bison saw Jaroslav Cesky feed Greg Chambers out on the left to beat goalie Alex Mettam for the equaliser on 15mins 19secs.
The home side took just 1min 58secs of the second session to regain the advantage when Emersic set up Leigh Jamieson to score.
Less than six minutes later a Chamber blast hit the back boards and rebounded to Doug Sheppard to put past Mettam – the goal timed at 27mins 20secs.
Once more though Lightning were in the driving seat on the powerplay after former MK player, Greg Owen, was penalised for hooking. Jamieson supplied Tvrdek for a tremendous first time shot which Lyle had no chance of a saving on 29mins 7secs.
The home side almost got another goal just over a minute later when Jamieson sent Tvrdek round the net but he was unable to find a gap to put the puck in.
Basingstoke were back on level terms on 31mins 45secs as Joe Rand’s shot was blocked by Mettam, only for Joe Miller, following up, to finish off.
Most fans were convinced Lightning had gone 4-3 in front when Emersic went up the left and put the puck into the goal on 44mins 56secs – but the indecisive officials had other ideas and washed the effort out.
With the scores level in regulation time, the game went into overtime which again failed to separate the teams. So it was down to penalty shots with Emersic and Chambers’ efforts both hitting the post, Carr’s penalty went wide while Cesky’s shot hit the outside of the post.
Tvrdek finally netted the puck before Miller consigned his team to defeat as he missed the target.
The next day at Peterborough, the first period failed to produce a goal until Jamieson set up Carr for a powerplay strike at 15mins 52secs while Lightning had a five on three advantage.
However, the lead didn’t last long as Phantoms struck back at 18mins 55secs through a Maris Ziedins assisted goal by Luke Ferrara.
Fifty-two seconds into the middle session Jeff Glowa got the assist when 16-year-old Lewis Hook put Phantoms in front.
That signalled the start of a bad 10 minutes for Lightning, with Hook the provider when Glowa made it 3-1 after 23mins 59secs, before Glowa supplied Ziedins for the fourth of the hosts’ goals.
There was a little bit of respite for Poole’s men when Michael Farn fired home on 29mins 16secs, assisted by Grant McPherson. But Lightning were unable to add to their tally in a period which ended 4-2 to the Cambridgeshire outfit.
That quickly changed in the third period with Ziedins getting the assist on a fifth Phantoms goal by James Ferrara – the player then picking up a two minute penalty call for slashing. But Lightning were unable to find a way through on the powerplay.
Luke Ferrara piled on the misery for the visitors in beating goalie Stephen Wall for the sixth goal on 49mins 37secs.
Jamieson cut the arrears when he beat goalie Damien King after 51mins 2secs before Tvrdek made the score look a little more respectable at 6-4 with a goal on 57mins 59secs.
However, Peterborough had the last laugh when Wall was taken off for the extra skater in the final minute – enabling Tom Carlon to score on the empty net with 18 seconds remaining, making it 7-4.
This weekend Lightning have two tough battles in home and away encounters with second in the table Manchester Phoenix. Face-off at Planet Ice on Saturday is 7pm, with a 5.30pm start for the return game at Altrincham the next day.