LIGHTNING’S hopes of finishing any higher than fifth place in the English Premier League look to be over following a win and a defeat at the weekend.
Whether Lightning finish fourth or fifth it looks as though they will take on Basingstoke Bison in the quarter finals of the end of season play-offs - the Hampshire outfit currently occupy fourth spot.
On Saturday Lightning eased to a routine 5-1 win over Sheffield Steeldogs at Planet Ice.
Lightning took a two goal lead within the first 10 minutes - the first goal coming on 6mins 50secs when Adam Brittle followed up as Monir Kalgoum’s initial shot was blocked, but not held by Sheffield goalie Ben Bowns.
The visitors had a powerplay chance when Grant McPherson was called for tripping, but instead it was Lightning who were able to score when Blaz Emersic and Adam Carr broke away - Emersic setting up Carr to score on 9mins 26secs.
Sheffield managed to get a goal back when Janie Ozolins got away from his marker and fired in at 16mins 30secs. But they couldn’t manage to capitalise when they had a two man advantage early in the second period.
As Lightning returned to full strength they bagged three goals in as many minutes - Carr scoring a second at 26mins 42secs and then Matt Towalski shooting through a crowd of players on 28mins 50secs.
The score was taken to 5-1 when Kalgoum helped Andre Smulter away to beat Bowns again after 29mins 44secs.
Steeldogs player coach Andre Payette called a time out, but although it stopped any further goals being conceded, his team were unable to score themselves.
Payette, with a reputation for being a hard man, was often left chasing shadows as his lack of pace meant he could not catch his speedier opponents. He was restricted to trying to antagonise Lightning’s players off the puck, but they just refused to respond, preferring to play hockey.
The following day Lightning were unable to repeat their two victories at The Spectrum Centre earlier in the season when they lost 7-3 to Guildford Flames.
Martin Masa shot Flames into the lead after 5mins 26secs from Matt Towe’s set up and Jez Lundin made it 2-0 on 10mins 33secs while his team were on a powerplay.
Things got even worse for the visitors 4mins 16secs into the second session when Masa added his second goal, before Lightning got on the scoresheet through Kalgoum at 26mins 52secs.
But just 20 seconds later goalie Barry Hollyhead was picking the puck out of the net again when Nathan Rempel made it 4-1.
Michael Wales gave Lightning a chance with a powerplay strike 28secs after the halfway mark, but again Flames extended their lead with Andrew Hemmings scoring on 31mins 41secs.
Lightning got one back through Emersic on a powerplay at 34mins 30secs, but Rempel added to the hosts’ tally 7mins 30secs from the buzzer, with David Savage getting the final goal on the powerplay at 57mins 16secs.
However, Lightning at least got back to winning ways on Tuesday night when goals from Emersic, Matt Towalski, Michael Farn and Brittle helped them to a 4-3 win at Telford Tigers.
Lightning are staging a ‘festival of hockey’ over the weekend with special combined ticket prices for MK Thunder’s’ league game with Romford on Saturday at 4.30pm, followed by Lightning’s match up against Manchester Phoenix at 7.30pm or the Sunday home game versus Basingstoke at 5.30pm. Full details on Lightning’s website.