MK LIGHTNING surrendered the Ashes Trophy after being outplayed by old rivals Peterborough Phantoms over two legs at the weekend.
After losing the first game 5-3 at Planet Ice on Saturday night, the city side went down by the same score in Cambridgeshire the following day for a 10-6 aggregate defeat.
The results leave player coach Nick Poole with some serious questions to answer ahead of the first English Premier League games this weekend.
The line combinations clearly did not work, although there were some promising moments in both games and one was left wondering whether the talented Adam Calder will produce better chances on the first line with Leigh Jamieson. However, that would leave the big question of whose place he would take – that of Blaz Emersic or the lively Adam Brittle.
With five new signings in the side on Saturday – including former Phantoms netminder Stephen Wall making his debut – it was clear that the new look Lightning team will take a little time to jell as a unit.
Phantoms handed the hosts an early blow with a strike on 1mins 14secs by Ondrej Lauko to put them ahead. And there was a further blow in the second minute – this time against Phantoms – but unfortunately it was not in the form of a goal.
Instead Lightning’s Chris Wiggins showed that he is not a man to be messed with as he was the winner of a clash with new Phantoms’ import Jozef Sladok.
Sladok failed to ice from the start of the second period – by that stage his team were already two goals to the good thanks to a powerplay marker from Maris Ziedins on 12mins 12secs scored while Jamieson was sitting out a two minute slashing penalty.
Lightning began to make more of an impression in the second period with Wiggins and Adam Carr both testing goalie Damien King. But it was not until 31mins 33secs that the home side finally registered with Jamieson starting the move on the left flank with a pass to Brittle in the middle. He played the puck to Emersic whose first time shot gave King no chance.
That was the only goal of the period though and Phantoms added to their tally on 43mins 53secds when Jeff Glowa found himself in space in front of goal to score Phantoms’ third.
There was a quick reply from the hosts with Wiggins getting the assist as defenceman Ross Green scored a rare goal after 45mins 6secs – only for Phantoms to make it 4-2 through Lauko after 47mins 41secs.
Poole set up Calder who came from behind the net to beat King for Lightning’s third and final goal after 51mins 3secs.
But once more Phantoms put daylight between the sides when Ziedins struck for a second time on 56mins 3ses to make it 5-3.
On Sunday it got no better for Lightning, even though they were first to register when Jamieson set up Emersic to score on 3mins 3secs.
But it did not take long for Phantoms to reply with Ziedins levelling on the night before former Lightning defenceman Tom Norton came to haunt his old side to give the hosts the lead after 7mins 35secs.
Lauko struck to add to the misery after 17mins 5secs – the home team leading 3-1 on the night and 8-4 on aggregate at the first break.
Lightning hit back with their second of the night as Emersic was provider for Brittle on 33mins 29secs, but that was the only goal of the period.
Phantoms regained control just 1min 30secs into the third period with another Lauko goal before Jordan Cownie got a fifth for his side.
When Brittle set up captain Carr for Lightning’s third goal 3mins 12secs from the buzzer it was nothing more than a consolation and the city side are left with more questions than answers ahead of their first EPL game of the season against Manchester Phoenix this Saturday.