Lightning on cloud nine after Windcats thrashing

MK Lightning vs Swindon Wildcats. Pics: Tony Sargent
MK Lightning vs Swindon Wildcats. Pics: Tony Sargent
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Six unanswered second period goals destroyed Swindon Wildcats in one of MK Lightning’s best performances of the season at MK Arena on Saturday.

Lightning eventually won their only game of the weekend 9-4 with Wildcats’ player coach, Aaron Nell, left seething at his side’s performance.

The half dozen strikes in just over 10 minutes knocked the stuffing out of Swindon who had former MK netminder Jordan Hedley in between the pipes, deputising for Stevie Lyle who was on duty for Great Britain in their 6-2 Olympic qualifier win over Serbia earlier in the evening.

Despite the win the city side’s chances of winning the English Premier League seem to be fading with their closest rivals Basingstoke Bison and Peterborough Phantoms both having games in hand and having picked up more points at the weekend.

Much will depend on Lightning’s home clash with Bison on Wednesday at 7.45pm where two points are vital to keep any hopes of the title alive.

They will have head coach Pete Russell back at the helm after being absent at the weekend with his GB coaching duties. Assistant coach, Lewis Clifford, and injured alternate captain, Grant McPherson, ran the MK bench.

Some great interplay between Jordan Cownie and Bobby Chamberlain set up Lightning for their first goal after 4mins 27secs – the Scot getting the final touch.

But it was not long before Wildcats were back on terms following a roughing call on Frankie Bakrlik in front of the visitors’ goal – Jonas Hoog setting up Carlo Finucci for a long range blast past goalie Dean Skinns at 7min 28secs.

Finucci was despatched to the sin bin in the ninth minute for interference on Cownie. But that did not stop Wildcats from going ahead short-handed as Hoog fired in from Aaron Nell’s pass after 11mins 14secs.

Adam Carr was slightly unlucky not to have a swift response for the home side as Hedley just got to the puck, but it was Wildcats who snatched the next goal when Hoog repaid the compliment to turn provider for Nell after 14mins 36secs.

Carr did however help provide the spark to get MK back in the game with his supply for Luc Johnson’s first goal for Lightning on 17mins 30secs.

Nell and Hoog had been the focus of most of Wildcats’ first session offence but the pair were largely anonymous from the start of the second period onwards as MK closed them down at every opportunity.

And that in turn – with the tempo increased – allowed the hosts to stage their big fightback. After Cownie’s shot from the right was blocked the puck ran loose in front of goal and Frankie Bakrlik capitalised for the equaliser at 25mins 45secs.

While Wildcats were still reeling Blaz Emersic made the pass for Bobby Chamberlain, crashing to the net, to put MK in front on 26mins 1sec.

Swindon’s Sam Bullas was then penalised for tripping Markku Tahtinen and that gave Lightning a powerplay from which Bakrlik supplied Carr to score through the narrowest of gaps at 28mins 16secs.

The home side were unable to add to their total when Bullas was sin binned for a high stick a minute or so later but they did do so on 34mins 25secs as Chamberlain passed for Cownie who had time and space to shoot past Hedley to make it 6-3.

Cownie was at it again just over two minutes later – again combining with Chamberlain – for a high shot into the net before turning supplier for Chamberlain 15 seconds from the second break.

When Cownie added his fourth of the game on 44mins 32secs to ensure his man of the match it seemed Lightning could reach double figures.

Instead the final goal went to Swindon – thanks to a 57th minute two minutes plus 10 penalty on Bakrlik for checking from behind on Callum Buglass in addition to two minutes for roughing.

Toms Rutkis set up Adam Harding at 58mins 57secs for a powerplay goal to round off the scoring.

Although Lightning did not manage 10 they will be delighted with the result.