Lightning lose more ground to the leaders

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Lightning suffered their worst weekend since the end of November when they only picked up one point out of a possible four.

What made it harder to take was the fact that at Manchester Phoenix on Sunday, Lightning dramatically fought back to force overtime before losing out in a marathon penalty shoot out.

The game was not decided until both sides had taken eight shots each – Joe Graham netting the winning shot.

On Saturday Lightning failed to spark against one of the league’s lower sides, Bracknell Bees, and had only themselves to blame for the 3-1 defeat.

Despite scoring first on the powerplay after 1min 56secs Lightning failed to press their advantage with the consequence that the visitors were able to fight back to equalise in the second period.

The early goal came when Lascek found Tom Carlon to score after Scott Spearing impeded Lascek.

Bees ran into penalty trouble again in the fifth minute as Pavel Strycek was called for interference on Jordan Cownie. But this time no goal resulted - Lightning unable to get a single shot on target.

Lightning survived a short handed spell as Grant McPherson sat out a cross checking penalty in the 12th minute - Bees’ best attempt coming from Jan Bendik.

Towards the end of the period Leigh Jamieson went agonisingly close while Bees’ best chances came from Spearing who first shot was saved by Hedley before a second effort hit the outside of the pipework.

McPherson and Adam Carr put former MK favourite Alex Mettam to the test in the Bees goal early in the second session before Bees hit back.

Lightning failed to clear their zone after Spearing and Lukas Smital piled on the pressure and it was the same two players who combined seconds later as Smital touched on to Spearing to find Shaun Thompson to finish off from close in at 24mins 54secs.

Lightning survived a five on three shorthanded spell when Lukas Zatopek was penalised for boarding and Lewis Christie joined him in the sin bin on a cross-checking call.

Chris Wiggins was sin binned four minutes into the final session – but Lightning didn’t capitalise and neither did they have any success with the extra man when

Strycek returned to the penalty box in the 48th minute

They lived to regret it as Carr was sent to the penalty box in the 52nd minute for tripping and Bees seized the chance of a quick powerplay goal, Spearing the scorer at 52mins 46secs.

Things got worse for Lightning when a fine bit of play saw Jan Bendik supply Smital advancing up the left and his pinpoint pass was turned into the net by Thompson at 58mins 39secs.

Lightning called a time out with 65secs remaining and withdrew Hedley in favour of the extra skater. But Bees held on to the two goal lead for a deserved win.

At Altrincham the next evening Ross Green set up Jordan Cownie to put Lightning in front after only 1min 13secs and the side then survived two penalty calls on McPherson for roughing and Ross Bowers for slashing.

They couldn’t break down the Manchester penalty kill unit when James Neil was sin binned for interference towards the end of the first period which ended 1-0.

And there were no further goals in the middle session despite the hosts being given three powerplay chances.

That all changed within 2mins 22secs of the start of the final period as Richard Bentham was the playmaker for Jack Watkins to defeat goalie Stephen Wall.

Things looked decidedly bleak for Lightning as Robin Kovar edged Phoenix in front on the powerplay while Farn was off the ice serving two minutes for roughing.

But a cross checking call on Bentham gave Lightning a lifeline with Jamieson setting up Carlon to level at 54mins 29secs and send the game into five minutes of overtime which produced no further goals.

That meant a penalty shoot out was needed – both teams scored two and had one saved in the regulation three shots apiece before a further five sudden death efforts finally gave Phoenix a 3-2 win after Graham scored and Farn missed.