LIGHTNING served up some pre-Christmas joy for their fans on Sunday as they just edged out Slough Jets 5-4 at Planet Ice in a game where the lead changed hands four times.
To describe the whole encounter as a thrilling affair would be to overstate the case after a low key opening session followed by a mainly uneventful second one.
However, the all action third period was an entirely different matter with four goals in the opening four minutes and two more in the final 11.
The opening 20 minutes only saw both sides manage eight shots apiece on the opposing goal – and few of them were anything that were likely to trouble a goalie.
Both Chris Wiggins and Michael Farn were missing from the home side’s line-up due to injury.
The game was only 26 seconds old when the first penalty was called by referee Will Hewitt – Jets’ Mindy Kieras sent to the sin bin for holding. But there was no chance of a goal from Lightning who failed to put enough pressure on netminder Gregg Rockman.
Kieras’ team-mate Daniel Rose was next in the penalty box in the 10th minute. This time Lightning’s powerplay was curtailed prematurely when Nick Chinn was called for tripping a minute or so later.
Despite the powerplays neither side could score in the first session which ended 0-0. However, it didn’t take Jets long to crack open the Lightning back line after the break as 1min 53ses had elapsed when former MK man Michael Wales fired in what looked to be a weak shot from Kieras’ set up on the powerplay.
That seemed to spark a little more urgency from the hosts and both Lukas Zatopek and Kamil Tvrdek both had shots blocked by Rockman, before Darius Pliskauskas went round the net but then took too long to shot at goalie Stephen Wall.
Lightning got back on terms when Lewis Christie supplied Blaz Emersic to net from close range at 35mins 50secs.
Less than a minute later, Chinn was given his marching orders on a match penalty after being caught making a punch to the back of Jets’ Greg Pick’s helmet. At the same time Tvrdek and Wales were both consigned to the sin bin for roughing – in essence the clash was nothing more than a touch of handbags.
With 13 seconds to the second buzzer, captain Adam Carr received the puck from Tvrdek and went solo to beat Rockman to give Lightning an interval lead.
That was quickly wiped out though at the start of the third when Wales made the pass from the left for Pliskauskas to blast in first time for a powerplay strike 53 seconds from the puck drop.
Thirty-four seconds later it was Slough who had the lead when Kieras was the provider for Slava Koulikov who found the gap to the right of Wall.
Incredibly back came Lightning within another 1min 40secs while Wales was serving time for hooking, with Nick Poole crossing for Leigh Jamieson to turn into the net.
Jamieson was then given free reign to skate across the face of goal and put the puck in to give Lightning the lead on 43mins 49secs.
Two more powerplays for Lightning gave them the chance to wrap up the encounter, but they were unable to get enough shots on goal. And there was then all to play for when Jets bounced back again to equalise at 4-4 on 49mins 33secs with Dan Davies making the connection an Alex Barker set up.
Finally Lightning managed a second powerplay strike of the evening with Tomas Valecko sitting out a two minutes plus 10 penalty for checking from behind.
Emersic was the provider for Grant McPherson who somehow found a gap behind Rockman from out on the right at 53mins 36secs.
Lightning go into the last pre-Christmas weekend in fourth spot in the English Premier League and without a game until December 27 when they host Bracknell Bees.