Lightning see off Jets but lose to Phoenix

Cap: Jez Tibbetts
Cap: Jez Tibbetts

Fans missing a firework show to watch Milton Keynes Lightning at Coventry Skydome on Saturday didn’t miss out entirely as rockets must have been launched in the changing room after one of the poorest first periods from the team in a long time.

Lightning – without injured captain Adam Carr - were three goals in arrears at the first break against Slough Jets but once the blue touch paper was lit there was no looking back and they went on to score five unanswered goals to win 5-3.

It was the ninth time in 13 games this season that Lightning had allowed the opposition to score first while on five of those occasions MK have gone onto to win. But they had not given away three goals and managed to turn the game around before so the achievement was all the more remarkable.

Supporters must have been wondering whether it was the real Lightning that took the ice in the first period because the side that battled back in the latter two periods bore no resemblance to it.

Jets went in front after 7mins 35secs with a powerplay goal by Ciaran Long when Janne Jokila was sitting out a two minute hooking penalty – Stephen Wall appearing to let the puck go in off his pads.

Less than two minutes later at 9mins 14secs Slough doubled the lead when Slava Koulikov won a face off and passed to Ales Padelek who was given space and time before taking his shot.

Former MK man Michael Wales made it a miserable first period with another Jets goal after 18mins 18secs as Slough outshot Lightning 7-4.

There was a powerplay for the home team at the start of the second session when Jets were called for delaying the game - and Lightning produced three shots with the extra man – nearly as many as they managed in the whole of the opening 20 minutes!

Lightning had to wait until they had a five on three powerplay before they began their fightback. The goal was an impressive one with Jokila making the pass to Stan Lascek from the right and he skilfully turned the puck past goalie Kamil Jarina at 31mins 40secs.

Lascek was the provider under a minute later for Jokila who found space for himself to blast into the net after 32mins 35secs - Lightning still on the powerplay.

The home side finally equalised when a fine Ben Russell pass from defence reached Leigh Jamieson going up centre ice. Blaz Emersic went up the right but Jets were caught out when Jamieson didn’t pass to him and instead beat Jarina on 36mins 50secs.

Lightning edged in front after 45mins 47secs with Michael Farn setting up Ross Bowers to smash the puck past Jarina.

Matt Towalski twice tested Wall and Padelek also had a great effort in the last 10 minutes but Wall kept them at bay

With 1min 14secs to go Jets called a timeout and Jarina was taken off in favour of the extra skater. However he was forced to return to the ice for a face off in the Lightning offensive zone.

He quickly came off again, giving Lascek the chance to pass to Jamieson for the crucial fifth goal on the empty net with 18secs remaining - capping a supreme effort by Lightning.

However the city team were unable to repeat the success on Sunday when they went down 4-3 at Manchester Phoenix in a game which ended with both sides having a player thrown out during a late brawl.

Lightning – missing both Carr and Lewis Christie through injury - took a two goal lead within the first nine minutes only to see it quickly wiped out by the quarter of an hour mark.

Jokila set up Jamieson for the perfect start with a goal on 3mins 23secs before Jordan Cownie got the assist as Jokila made it 2-0 at 8mins 25secs.

Nothing came of a Lightning powerplay as Michal Psurny was sin binned shortly after and it was the home side who were next to register with Tony Hand the supplier for James Archer on 12mins 57secs.

Robin Kovar got Phoenix level on 15mins 2secs – the final goal of the period.

Manchester edged in front after 28mins 18secs through Luke Boothroyd five minutes before Lukas Zatopek was given a total of 12 mins in penalties for hooking and misconduct – reducing Lightning to three defencemen.

Despite that Manchester were unable to add to their tally in the middle session.

They had to wait until 4mins 55secs into the final period before they established a two goal advantage – Hand the scorer.

Zatopek was the provider for Lascek to narrow the gap to one goal with 4mins 38secs remaining – seconds ahead of a major brawl involving several players from both teams.

The net result was the dismissal of Grant McPherson and Robert Schnabel and four minute penalties for Kovar and Lascek.

Lightning withdrew goalie Wall in favour of the extra skater as the clock counted down but were unable to find an equaliser.