Disappointing defeat for Lightning

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Battling Lightning made league champions elect Telford Tigers fight all the way for their 2-1 victory at MK Arena on Saturday.

But it was a very different story the following day in the return game in Shropshire when the game was effectively over by as early as the eighth minute with Tigers having already established a 3-0 lead.

Telford went on to win 6-2 with Lightning failing to find the net until the final ten minutes of the game - far too late to alter the outcome.

On Saturday it was Lightning who dealt the early shock when Ross Green played the puck out of defence to Milan Kostourek who shook off his marker before unleashing a rocket blast which totally eluded netminder Tom Murdy on 7mins 47secs.

The hosts showed true grit and determination, first to hold onto their early lead and then to put up a tremendous fight to prevent the game slipping away from them once Tigers edged in front in the second session.

Once Lightning had gone ahead Wall had to be at his best to prevent Blahoslav Novak and Marcus Maynard from getting the Tigers back in the game.

Blaz Emersic and then Curtis Huppe - set up by Emersic - both went close before Lightning had a powerplay opportunity when Sam Zajac was penalised for boarding in the 14th minute. But the extra man proved of little advantage with no goal resulting.

Tigers continued where they left off in the second period and Rick Plant could have tied the game up within 40 seconds of the restart after Green lost possession. But Plant fluffed his lines at the crucial moment.

Eventually though the pressure told and Sam Zajac’s shot was saved but not held by the outstanding Wall who could not keep out Nathan Salem’s follow up on 26mins 52secs.

Grant McPherson tried to give Lightning the edge in the 28th minute with a long range effort but goalie Murdy saved it easily before Tigers went in front with the veteran Jonathan Weaver sending Dan Davies away to score at 30mins 56secs.

The goal sparked a brief spell of the rough stuff with McPherson doing battle with Rupert Quiney. McPherson went down first but recovered to pin down his opponent - both receiving two minutes in the sin bin.

Just 20 seconds later things kicked off between Chris Wiggins and Dan Scott - the MK man being given two plus two minutes for roughing and two minutes plus 10 for checking to the head. Scott served two minutes for roughing.

Despite that there were no further goals as Telford retained the lead.

Jason Silverthorn returned from suspension to make an immediate impact in the game on Sunday, being set up by Szabo for the first Tigers goal after just 4mins 27secs.

Sixty-seven seconds later it was 2-0 with Martin Ondrej the supplier for Max Birbraer.

Worse was to come less than two minutes afterwards as Nathan Salem was provider for Silverthorn to send goal number three past Wall.

That prompted an immediate time out by coach Nick Poole but it did little to turn the game around and by the end of the first period it was 4-0 to Tigers thanks to a strike by Peter Szabo on 15mins 44secs.

Lightning survived a late penalty on Kostourek for holding but couldn’t prevent Salem, assisted by Szabo and Silverthorn, adding to Tigers’ tally after 22mins 14secs.

The goal meant the last of the action for Wall who was replaced by Jordan Hedley.

As the period went on there was a repeat of the previous evening’s fisticuffs as Wiggins engaged with Owen Bennett - earning both four minutes for roughing before Lewis Christie and Zajac received identical penalties for the same offence, the Tigers man also picking up a 10 minute incitement call.

Further battles ensued between Green and Joe Miller and McPherson and Ondrej - all given four minutes in the cooler.

Lightning finally got on the score sheet at 52mins 43secs with Adam Carr the supplier for Kostourek.

Under two minutes later at 54mins 37secs Salem restored the gap only for Carr to round off the scoring with the visitors’ second on 56mins exactly.