MK Lightning handed out a second successive thrashing to English Premier League title hopefuls Manchester Phoenix with a 7-2 victory at Coventry Skydome on Saturday.
Lightning had seen off Tony Hand’s outfit by a 7-2 margin in their final game of last year and few home fans were expecting such an easy ride this year.
But in many ways this was a better performance with Lightning more than a match for the visitors in the first period and then tearing them apart in the second. In the previous encounter Lightning had to wait until the last session before taking control.
However Lightning fell short of recording a four point weekend when they lost 4-1 at Bracknell Bees on Sunday – despite out-shooting the hosts in the first two periods.
Lightning were without injured import Stan Lascek for both clashes and Nick Poole stepped in to fill the gap.
On Saturday goalie Stephen Wall lived up to his name thwarting Phoenix’s best efforts to defeat him. And with Janne Jokila bagging four goals the pair were the lynchpins of the win.
On Sunday Lightning, try as they might, could not find beat man of the match netminder Tom Annetts after scoring in the first period.
Manchester got off the mark first with Michael Psurny defeating Wall on 4mins 58secs before Blaz Emersic supplied Jokila to score from close range 25 seconds later.
A powerplay came and went for Phoenix with Lightning going in front at 16mins exactly when Tom Carlon set up Jokila to fire into the roof of the net.
Lightning extended the lead 3mins 5secs into the second period after Carlon sent Emersic away to beat goalie Stephen Fone on 23mins 5secs.
Lightning registered again on the powerplay with Emersic the provider for Jokila to complete his hat-trick with a blue line blast on 28mins 47secs.
Frantisek Bakrlik, Robin Kovar and Psurny all failed to beat Wall before Grant McPherson took the score to 5-1 at 34mins 38secs after great passing between him and Jordan Cownie.
Carlon then found plenty of space to cross to Jokila who netted his fourth goal at 36mins 8secs.
Lightning were on the rampage and more goals looked to be a certainty. But Manchester were able to regroup at the interval and they put Wall under a lot of pressure at times in the third period.
Eventually Leigh Jamieson supplied Adam Carr for the home team’s seventh goal on 58mins 30secs.
Kovar hit Phoenix’s second goal with 51secs remaining but it was not Manchester’s night.
Lightning were out of luck at The Hive the following after they got off to a bad start against Bracknell – going two goals behind before getting their solitary strike.
Rob Lamey put the home side in front after 5mins 9secs and 63secs later James Galazzi set up Grant Rounding to beat goalie Jordan Hedley.
McPherson was the provider when Cownie cut the deficit after 9mins 55secs and the fightback seemed to be on.
It was not to be even though Lightning outshot Bees in both the first and second periods – with two first period powerplays in succession when Jan Bendik and then Matt Foord each spent two minutes in the sin bin.
Lightning lost the services of Poole on a two minute penalty for charging plus 10 minutes for misconduct at the 25 minute mark and then saw McPherson given a total of 12 minutes for checking from behind – neither of which helped the cause.
There were two more powerplay chances for Lightning in the latter part of the third period – Galazzi sin binned for slashing and Lewis Turner going for the same reason – but Bees’ back line were able to hold firm under pressure.
In a last throw of the dice Hedley was withdrawn in the final minute, only for Lukas Smital to put Scott Spearing away for an empty net goal to make it 4-1 at 59mins 12secs.
On Saturday Lightning face Swindon Wildcats at Coventry Skydome at 7.30pm before going to the revitalised Telford Tigers on Sunday at 5.30pm.