Double disappointment for Lightning

Lightning vs Guildford. Pics by Tony Sargant
Lightning vs Guildford. Pics by Tony Sargant

MK Lightning’s season reached a low when they were outplayed by lowly Bracknell Bees in a 7-2 defeat at The Hive on Sunday.

Second from bottom Bees had only won five of their previous English Premier League games this year but that did not stop them outclassing a lacklustre Lightning.

And it was two former Lightning players who had a big say in the result – last year’s top scorer Milan Kostourek bagging four goals and two assists while Matt Towalski, who spent several seasons with the club, scored once and registered two assists.

The result followed a disappointing Saturday when Lightning fought back from a 2-0 deficit at home to Guildford Flames to draw level by the end of the second period – only to lose to an overtime goal netted 11 seconds from the buzzer by Jens Eriksson.

A major concern is the fact that Lightning’s four imports have only scored three goals between them in the past seven matches – the remainder of the 18 goal tally coming from the British contingent.

The Guildford clash saw Grant McPherson given regular ice shifts for the first time in weeks and he took the opportunity with relish – picking up the man of the match award.

David Clements was sin binned for hooking on 9min 13secs and it took Erik Piatak just 23 seconds to register unassisted on the powerplay for Flames.

Clements and then Marcus Kristofferson tested the opposing netminders before Flames doubled their lead as Matt Towe set up Matic Kralj to make it 2-0 after 17mins 37secs.

Lightning were heavily outshot in the first period to the tune of 13-5 so they needed to up their game in the second. And that they did – outshooting Flames 30-7.

There were opportunities for both sides – Eriksson and Andy McKinney for Flames and Jordan Cownie and Adam Carr for the home team – before Bobby Chamberlain and James Griffin had the assists on Michael Farn’s strike – his first goal of the season – at 31mins 38secs.

It was a cross checking penalty on Tom Duggan that provided the opening for Lightning to draw level on the powerplay with Markku Tahtinen supplying Clements to find the net on 38mins 33secs.

In the third session MK saw off a shorthanded spell with Cownie given two minutes for hooking. Back on the ice the Scot had a shot go wide before Marko Luomala’s effort from the left wing was blocked by Wall but there were no goals.

There was a great chance for Lightning to put the game to bed with 1min 48secs of regulation time remaining as Piatak was assess a diving penalty but it came to nothing and the match went into overtime with Eriksson scoring the decider at 64mins 49secs.

The next Pete Russell’ charges went 5-0 behind at Bees before they responded with a powerplay goal from captain Adam Carr.

Towalski who opened Bees’ account – assisted by Kostourek and Ivan Antonov – after 6mins 34secs and Kostourek extended Bees’ lead when set up by Lewis Turner and Towalski after 15mins 33secs.

Bees made the most of a hooking call on Ed Knaggs after 16mins 18secs with Antonov capitalising on the powerplay – David Savage and Kostourek having a hand as Bees made it 3-0 at the first break.

If anyone thought the interval would give the travellers the chance to regroup they were wrong and Kostourek added another just two minutes into the middle session – Towalski the provider.

Just 54 seconds later Frantisek Bakrlik added to Lightning’s nightmare, taking the score to 5-0.

The goal sparked a Lightning timeout and the replacement of goalie Dean Skinns by Jordan Marr.

It failed to lead to a swift reversal of fortunes though with Bees – beaten 10-2 by Basingstoke Bison the previous evening – surviving a five on three spell with Lukas Smital and Scott Spearing both in the sin bin at the same time.

Lightning did eventually pull a goal back while being presented with another five on three powerplay after Savage was sin binned for boarding and Jan Bendik for hooking – Rene Jarolin and David Clements the provider for Carr at 34mins 37secs.

The Lightning stopper kept Bees at bay with saves from Bakrlik and Towalski but couldn’t prevent Kostourek from completing his hat-trick on 45mins 48secs.

The situation got even worse just over three minutes later as Kostourek helped himself to a fourth goal to make it 7-1.

Lightning did add a second goal 3mins 16secs from the buzzer when Grant McPherson set up Glenn Billing to score but it was too little too late.