Lewis Hook bagged a hat-trick as new look Lightning were narrowly edged out 5-4 by Basingstoke Bison in their first challenge match of the season on Wednesday.
A big travelling contingent saw Lightning put up a tremendous battle in Hampshire before they were eventually downed by a final minute goal from Joe Rand.
New Lightning Head Coach Pete Russell will not have been too unhappy with the result given that the squad comprises 13 newcomers who will need time to gel and that he said before the game that he was more interested on performance than the results of the pre-season games.
After a goalless first session it was Bison who opened their account through a Tomas Karpov assisted goal by Stuart Mogg after 26mins 4secs.
The visitors got back on terms when Rene Jarolin set up Leigh Jamieson - playing on defence this season - to beat new Bison netminder Tomas Hiadlovsky on 37mins 3secs.
Parity lasted only 20 seconds with Ciaran Long putting the hosts back in the driving seat for a 2-1 end of second period score.
Jamieson and Bobby Chamberlain had a hand when Hook banked the first of his markers to tie things up on 42mins 8secs, only for Bison to recapture the lead through Ryan Watt after 46mins 26secs.
But Lightning were not beaten and they hit back while the sides were four on four - this time Chamberlain having first assist on Hook’s second goal at 50mins 52secs.
A tripping penalty on Lewis Christie gave Bison the chance to score through Rand at 52mins 20secs before Hook wrapped up his hat-trick on 54mins 49secs as Marko Luomala got his first point for the club with the assist.
Bison then had the final say through Rand’s goal with 47 seconds remaining. Lightning withdrew goalie Dean Skinns in a bid to level after Watt was called for tripping - giving them a six on three skaters advantage but it was to no avail.
The return leg is on Wednesday 9 September at the MK Arena and tickets are on sale now.