Lightning experiences ups and downs of the Premier League

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MK Lightning experienced the extreme highs and lows of life in the English Premier League at the weekend with a big victory followed by defeat the next day.

Saturday’s 11-0 destruction of league newcomers Hull Pirates was the team’s biggest winning margin in nearly six years – the side having beaten Romford Raiders 12-1 on October 31, 2009.

It was without doubt nothing more than a stroll in the park with Pirates only managing 12 shots on goal in the entire 60 minutes compared with Lightning’s barrage of 49 on the visitors’ net.

Ironically it was probably not the best preparation for the trip to reigning league champions Telford Tigers on Sunday where the city outfit were under pressure for long periods and ended up as 3-1 losers.

The writing was on the wall at MK Arena as early as 5mins 7secs when Lightning’s early pressure was rewarded with a goal as Marko Luomala was given space to score past goalie Jon Baston.

By the quarter of an hour mark it was 3-0 – man of the match Rene Jarolin setting up Markku Tahtinen on 13mins 6secs before Jordan Cownie squeezed the puck in after 14mins 9secs. From then on a double figure result looked to be a possibility.

Jack Watkins was unlucky not have scored in the final minute of the period – many thought the puck had hit the rear metalwork of the goal and bounced out.

There was just one goal in the middle period despite Lightning’s pressure, Tahtinen registering from close range on 37mins 32secs.

It was scant reward for Lightning’s efforts with Hull electing to go for damage limitation by not putting more than two men forward.

That did not stop Jarolin and Michael Farn both having fine attempts on goal before the fourth goal.

The third session was only 39 seconds old when Tahtinen was provider for Jarolin to smash the puck in first time to make it 5-0. Hull called a timeout and that was the end of Baston’s involvement – his replacement between the pipes being Ashley Smith.

Smith fared no better and was soon retrieving the puck from his goal when Tahtinen supplied Luomala at 44mins 16secs before Glenn Billing notched his first league goal for the team at 45mins 54secs.

Pirates’ coach Dominic Osman’s frustration resulted in two penalties for him, leading to two goals by the hosts. When Osman was called for delaying the game by knocking the net from its moorings Tahtinen and Leigh Jamieson set up Jarolin to capitalise at 48mins 57secs.

James Griffin then made it 9-0 on 49mins 54secs before Osman was in the sin bin again allowing Jarolin to complete his hat trick at 54mins 32secs.

Blaz Emersic rounded off the rout with the final goal after 57mins 2secs.

It was a totally different story at Telford the next day where Lightning fell behind after 17mins 49secs when Peter Szabo was the supplier for Sam Zajac to net on the powerplay while Bobby Chamberlain was serving time for interference.

The middle stanza started well for the visitors when defenceman David Clements took Tahtinen’s pass to send the puck past goalie Tom Murdy for the equaliser 1min 24secs into the period.

But that was negated when Nathan Salem was assisted by Szabo and Jason Silverthorn for Tigers’ second strike on 28mins 19secs.

The sides both suffered penalties shortly afterwards with Lewis Christie receiving two minutes for holding and Tigers’ Joe Miller being given a spell in the sin bin for interference.

No goals resulted but MK were feeling the heat with the home side exerting a lot of pressure.

As the third period progressed Lightning goalie Dean Skinns blocked a Daniel Rose effort and when the same Tigers player went to the penalty box for delaying the game Pete Russell’s men could not make anything of the powerplay.

Following good chances for Salem, Szabo and Miller – Lightning’s resistance was broken with a shorthanded Phil Hill goal at 49mins 31secs.

Luomala and Tahtinen both had chances to score late on but there was no way back for Lightning even when they withdrew Skinns for the extra skater after a timeout in the final minute.