Lightning return to winning form

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Lightning bounced back to winning form with their first four-point weekend since mid-October, beating Manchester Phoenix 8-4 on Saturday and then shutting out Guildford Flames for only the second time in their history with a 4-0 success in Surrey 24 hours later.

During the week Lightning axed a second import in a fortnight when Marko Luomala followed Rene Jarolin out the door.

Defenceman Martti Jarventie replaced Jarolin while proven goal scorer Frantisek Bakrlik was brought in from struggling Bracknell Bees to fill the gap left by Luomala.

And both had an effect in the weekend wins. Bakrlik has averaged two points a game playing against Lightning for Bees and his previous team, Manchester. At the weekend he picked up two goals against Phoenix before earning two assists at the Spectrum Centre the next day.

Meanwhile Jarventie had an assist on the outfit’s opening goal at Guildford.

The addition of proven goal scorer Bakrlik has given Lightning a more assured look up front while Jarventie looks increasingly at home in defence, giving hope that Lightning can get their season back on track.

Against Manchester Jordan Cownie gave Lightning a dream start with a goal after only 1min 55secs when Lewis Hook fed him from the left. He was given a second chance as goalie Stephen Fone fumbled his first shot.

In the 16th minute Blaz Emersic set up Cownie but he was unable to get the puck past Fone.

Fone was not so lucky when Cownie passed back to Emersic on the blue line - his blast rocketing high into the net to the right of the goalie on 17mins exactly to give the hosts a 2-0 lead at the first break.

There was a blip at the start of the second session when Nico Aaltonen beat goalie Dean Skinns at 22mins 17secs for Phoenix’s opening goal.

But the industry of Lightning’s third line soon restored the two goal gap Bobby Chamberlain crossed from the right for Grant McPherson to poke the puck in on 25mins 26secs.

Less than two minutes later Bakrlik intercepted a Manchester clearance and blasted the puck high into the goal for his debut strike at 27mins 4secs.

Fone was beaten again 2mins 3secs later as the lead was stretched to four goals with a Leigh Jamieson goal.

An error by James Griffin led to Manchester’s second goal when Robin Kovar was presented with a golden opportunity which he could hardly fail to take at 31mins 8secs.

But Lightning had the last say of the period when a quick feed from Skinns to Ross Green saw the defenceman send Cownie away to score on 37mins 35secs.

An almost identical move early in the third session when James Neil put Aaltonen in the clear resulted in Manchester’s third goal at 43mins 15secs.

Memories of the previous week’s collapse against Sheffield Steeldogs came to mind when Kovar set up Aaltonen to compete his hat trick with a shot from the right after 47mins 31secs. But a 50th minute penalty on Trent Hope allowed Griffin to redeem himself by getting the assist as Emersic netted - Manchester defenceman Luke Boothroyd getting the final touch into his own net at 51mins 47secs.

Any slim hope Phoenix had of pulling something out of the bag disappeared with Lightning’s eighth goal – a Bakrlik slapshot - on a further powerplay at 58mins 51secs.

The win at Guildford was achieved despite the hosts outshooting MK in all three periods – 37 efforts on Skinns while former Lightning favourite, Stephen Wall, faced just 23.

Jarventie started the move for Emersic to set up Hook’s opener after 14mins 57secs.

Teenager Ed Knaggs made the pass for Grant McPherson to supply Leigh Jamieson to double the advantage on 36mins 23secs. Once more it was the solitary strike of the period.

With Hook and Jarventie both in the sin bin at the same time early in the third Flames still could not break down Lightning.

Chamberlain made Flames’ task even more difficult when he made it 3-0 to the travellers on 55mins 12secs - Tahtinen and Bakrlik also having had a hand in the goal.

Bakrlik and Lewis Christie were the suppliers when Chamberlain bagged his second goal with 14 seconds remaining to complete a 4-0 scoreline – the only other time MK had shutout Flames in their own rink being in January 2011 when they won 5-0.