LIGHTNING have moved back to within one point of English Premier League table toppers Guildford Flames after two more victories at the weekend.
With Flames having lost their only game of the weekend away to Swindon Wildcats, Lightning’s 7-2 success at home to Telford Tigers and 5-3 win at Bracknell Bees sees them breathing down the necks of the Surrey side.
And fate has deemed that they will have an immediate chance to overtake Guildford this weekend as Flames visit Planet Ice on Saturday night.
The omens are certainly good for Lightning who have won two out of their three clashes with Paul Dixon’s side so far this season – the defeat only being by a single goal at the Guildford Spectrum in November.
The city side will then travel to Manchester Phoenix on Sunday for what will be a tough encounter – the opposition on a six game winning streak.
On Saturday Lightning had to come from two goals behind to claim victory with a third period onslaught which put Tigers firmly in the shade.
Telford were given the best possible start to the game as Lightning were caught out twice in the opening 10 minutes.
After 4mins 25secs Marek Hornak fired in a shot from the right side which goalie Barry Hollyhead – making a rare appearance in goal in place of Alex Mettam – was only able to parry as far as the onrushing Henrik Sahlin who made no mistake in putting the puck away.
The lead was doubled after 9mins 13secs as Juraj Senko’s pass from the defensive zone was met by Hornak who raced away to beat Hollyhead one on one.
Leigh Jamieson’s had a fine opportunity midway through the first period when he went solo with only Ryan to beat but the netminder blocked his effort.
Jamieson went close again in the 13th minute when his shot hit the left pipe and rebounded to safety.
It was not until after the halfway mark that Lightning finally started to get back in the game when Leigh Jamieson registered after 31mins 17secs with Ryan probably unsighted.
Just over a minute later it was all square as Adam Brittle set up Nick Poole with a pass from the right - the Canadian firing in first time at 32mins 28secs.
Telford immediately called a time out but it failed to stop Lightning going in front on the powerplay when Poole took advantage of a defensive lapse on 37mins 41secs.
Lightning needed a quick goal to put them in command in the third session and fans didn’t have to wait long as Juraj Gracik blasted high into the goal within 48secs of the restart.
By this stage Tigers’ defensive strategy was blown apart and it was wrecked further when Adam Carr was given too much space as he made it 5-2 after 43mins 45secs.
Even when Tigers were presented with three powerplay opportunities they were unable to make anything of them so it was no surprise when Jamieson added to Lightning’s tally on 56mins 24secs.
With 38secs remaining Tom Norton sent Blaz Emersic clear to complete the scoring.
The following night Lightning again fell a goal behind early in the game away at Bracknell with Martin Masa beating Mettam in 5mins 2secs.
The visitors’ response was quick though as Poole set up Emersic for the powerplay equaliser at 6mins 29secs, as Bees’ Rick Skene was serving two minutes for interference.
But Bees forged ahead again 1mins 43secs into the middle period with an unassisted Lukas Smital goal.
This time they held onto the lead for more than 12 minutes until Poole supplied Brittle to make it 2-2 on 34mins 13secs and that remained the score at the start of the third.
Once more though the hosts were in front after 45mins 1sec as Masa got his second of the night. It was the last time Bees led with Lukas Zatopek providing the pass for Emersic to net 1min 39secs later.
The visitors edged in front for the first time after 53mins 30secs when Brittle and Carr combined – captain Carr the scorer.
Bees withdrew goalie Carl Ambler in favour of the extra skater for the last 37secs – a fatal error as Carr was able to set up Jamieson for the fifth goal in an empty net at 59mins 42secs.
>> MK Thunder began their new year with two away defeats as they went down 5-1 at Cardiff Devils on Saturday and then 6-4 to Invicta Dynamos on Sunday, keeping them in sixth place in the English National League Division One South.
Devils raced into a two-goal lead before Thunder struck back through Maros Stefanco before the end of the first period.
Thunder goalie Dave Cassidy was beaten again three times in the second and third periods as the city side suffered a third loss on the bounce.
And it became four in a row on Sunday, despite putting in a great display away at Invicta Dynamos. Stefanco, Vladimir Hubka, Connor Goode and Martyn Snape got the goals in the 6-4 defeat.