A LEIGH Jamieson hat-trick and a pair from new import Adam Calder got MK Lightning’s English Premier League season off to the finest possible start with an 8-2 victory against Manchester Phoenix on Saturday night.
Unfortunately the two couldn’t reproduce the magic again the following day when the city side went down 5-2 at current league and cup holders, Guildford Flames.
After the disappointment of losing the Ashes Trophy the previous weekend to Peterborough Phantoms, player coach Nick Poole switched Calder to the first line to partner Jamieson and Blaz Emersic for the league openers which also counted towards the EPL Cup competition.
It took just 5mins 58secs for the effect of the change to be felt against Tony Hand’s Manchester, with Jamieson starting the move which saw Phoenix goalie Steve Fone make a big error in coming out to block Lukas Zatopek, but only succeeded in allowing Calder to claim the loose puck and fire into, effectively, an empty net.
Jamieson then intercepted a Manchester clearance to register unassisted on 12mins 39secs, with the hosts, by now, growing in confidence.
Just over a minute later Jamieson played a part in Lightning’s third goal when he set up Calder from Emersic’s pass. It looked impossible for Calder to score as a Manchester defenceman closed in on him, but he got the puck away to beat Fone at 13mins 49secs.
Manchester’s only first period reply came with James Archer supplying Robert Schnabel for a shot which goalie Alex Mettam could only partially block after 14mins 5secs.
Just 24secs into the second period and Lightning made it 4-1 as Poole put Adam Carr away in space to fire in to the far side of Fone.
Another mistake from Fone in leaving his goal open on a Lightning powerplay allowed Calder to pass to Jamieson to blast home after 33mins 52secs. And less than two minutes later on 35mins 31secs Jamieson scored from Chris Wiggins’ set up to make it 6-1.
The home side were again swiftly back in action with Manchester’s Ben Wood in the penalty bin for tripping Adam Brittle – Emersic skilfully redirecting Carr’s blue line shot at 43mins 47secs.
Phoenix managed to get a second goal while Poole was in the sin bin, with Luke Boothroyd scoring from close range at 45mins 35secs.
Fone went absent once more on 54mins 30secs and that gave Calder the chance to set up Grant McPherson for a goal on the empty net to complete the rout.
Things were not so rosy at the Spectrum Centre the following day though as Lightning fell 5-0 down by the 44th minute before grabbing what were two late consolation goals.
Had their powerplay unit been more effective, Lightning would have possibly achieved a better result against the side who started favourites to retain their league and cup titles. As it was the visitors could only manage one goal from 10 spells with a player advantage.
Jozef Kohut opened the tally for the home side on 9mins exactly, and when Lewis Christie was penalised for a high stick after 14mins 49secs, Flames took the powerplay chance to make it 2-0 with Ben Campbell on the mark from David Longstaff’s pass.
By the end of the first period Flames were dominating the game in terms of shots on goal – outshooting Lightning 12-6. And it didn’t get much better in the second period which saw only 11 shots on target – seven to the Surrey outfit.
When Kohut was given a 10 minute misconduct penalty, plus a checking to the head penalty, it gave Lightning another powerplay. But instead it was Curtis Huppe, from Jez Lundin, who registered short handed to make Poole’s men’s task almost impossible.
The mountain grew when Campbell got his second of the night to send Guildford in at the second break with a 4-0 lead.
The misery continued into the final period when Campbell got the assist on Branislav Kvetan’s goal after 44mins 17secs.
Then came a couple of moments of joy for Lightning as Calder was able to set up Emersic for a powerplay strike on 47mins 17secs – Lundin in the box for slashing.
And 10mins 6secs from the buzzer defenceman Ross Green put Carr away to score Lightning’s second.
The momentum was then lost as there was a delay after the lights failed. Once play restarted, Flames closed out the game.