Lightning so close but so far from lifting the Cup

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Lightning came within a goal of pulling off one of the most sensational comebacks of the season in the second leg of the English Premier League Cup Final at Basingstoke on Wednesday.

Bison held a three goal lead from the first leg but with less than three minutes remaining that had been whittled down to a solitary strike.

However, as far as Lightning was concerned, dreams of glory were not to be with Bison eventually wrapping up the tie to win the cup thanks to a powerplay goal scored with 2mins 21secs left.

Lightning could hardly have made a more disastrous beginning in Hampshire - giving up a goal after only 20secs as Bison’s opening line up combined to beat goalie Stephen Wall. The provider was Joe Rand who sent Aaron Connolly away up the left for a shot which caught Wall cold.

Bison put Lighting under pressure on the powerplay as Ross Green was sent to the cooler for tripping after 2mins 45secs but they could not find a way through with the extra skater.

Nicky Chinn was then gifted the puck when Michael Farn slipped but the Bison forward was thwarted by Wall.

Bison did take advantage though when they were awarded a second powerplay with Jordan Cownie sent to penalty box for holding in the 11th minute. Ciaran Long fired in from the blue line and Tomas Karpov redirected the puck into the net at 11mins 44secs.

Long was next in the sin bin but there was precious little danger from the Lightning powerplay units - in fact possibly their best chance came at even strength in the final minute of the session. Grant McPherson went up the left and cross for Adam Carr who couldn’t quite get the right touch to beat goalie Dean Skinns.

With a five goal deficit to make up time was already running out for the visitors as two periods remained.

Lightning did not make much impact as penalties on Joe Baird for delaying the game and Long for tripping came and went.

All that changed through when former MK player Michael Wales was awarded two minutes for tripping Leigh Jamieson. It was Jamieson who scored on 27mins 2secs with assists going to Green and Cownie.

That sparked Lightning into life and as the period went on the momentum swung their way - Stan Lascek skilfully kept possession until he was able to supply Carr, only for Skinns to save.

Janne Jokila and Farn then threatened Skinns’ goal but without success and a similar fate met Lascek’s effort.

Skinns denied Tom Carlon inside the final four minutes of the period but he couldn’t stop Carr from equalising, on the night, at 37mins 38secs from Lascek’s supply.

That put the visitors back where they started the evening, requiring four goals to win but with only 20 minutes in which to do it.

Joe Baird was sin binned for Bison three minutes into the third period and Lightning grasped the opportunity to score on the powerplay with Blaz Emersic setting up Lascek to give the side the lead on the night at 43mins 56secs.

Lukas Zatopek went close with a blue line blast - Ross Bowers just unable to follow up before Lascek went all the way from defence, leaving three Bison men in his wake, only to see his shot saved.

A series of penalties left both sides playing four on four when Lightning established a 4-2 advantage on the night.

First Miroslav Vantroba was sin binned for tripping Cownie before Carr picked up a holding penalty and Bison had Kurt Reynolds penalised, also for holding.

As the penalty on Vantroba ended Lighting piled on the pressure and Jamieson registered after 52mins 12secs - 4-2 on the night, 6-5 to Bison on aggregate.

Just 3mins 51secs remained when McPherson was sin binned for high sticks and that gave Bison the chance to wrap the cup win up with Andrew Melachrino scoring at 57mins 39secs.

Lightning continued to battle in the final two minutes but at that stage it was really a hopeless cause.