Lightning thumped by Wildcats

editorial image

Lightning totally capitulated as they succumbed to their worst ever home league defeat on a miserable Wednesday night.

Never before had the team conceded double digit goals on home ice and they had no one to blame but themselves against a rampant Swindon Wildcats who inflicted an 11-3 defeat.

The loss was only two goals shy of Lightning’s worst ever loss against EPL opposition - an 11-1 hammering at Slough Jets on March 21, 2010.

Swindon’s win exposed the frailties of a Lightning defence which failed to come anywhere near containing Wildcats’ potent strike force of Henrik Sandvik, Jonas Hoog, Tomasz Malasinski and Aaron Nell.

At the same time it demonstrated how much Lightning have come to rely on the Jordan Cownie, Lewis Hook and Blaz Emersic line to get the goals at crucial times of the game. Both Cownie and Hook were missing, away on Great Britain Under 20s duty - and scoring goals.

Lightning could not even offer their absence as an excuse with Swindon also missing some of their top juniors, again away with GB.

The home squad was further weakened by the absence of defenceman Petr Horava, away with his wife who was due to give birth.

Despite the result Lightning started brightly with Emersic firing them into a two goal lead inside the first seven minutes.

Emersic followed up after a Leigh Jamieson shot was blocked by goalie Steve Lyle to make it 1-0 at 6mins 14secs. Milan Kostourek then put the Slovenian away to fire home from just inside the blue line 31 seconds later.

Swindon called an early timeout and from then on it was all downhill for Lightning.

Grant McPherson received a two plus ten minute penalty for checking to the head and from the resulting powerplay Nell blasted in from the blue line on 7mins 55secs and 21 seconds after that Jan Kostal levelled the scores.

Hoog came out of the penalty box later in the session to score almost immediately on 17mins 55secs - giving Wildcats a 3-2 advantage at the first break.

Few could have predicted what to happen in the middle period as Lightning wasted two powerplay opportunities before Malasinski extended the visitors’ lead on 27mins 11secs.

It was the first of four Swindon goals in less than three minutes - Sandvik registering on 28mins 22secs and Hoog at 28mins 55secs before Malasinski got his second at 29mins 34secs to make it 7-2.

Netminder Stephen Wall’s miserable night was ended immediately after Lightning called a timeout - Thunder regular Damian King replacing him. While Wall could not be totally to blame for the surrender there is no doubt on another night he would have saved many of the goals.

It was not long before King was retrieving the puck from the net with Sandvik on the mark again at 33mins 17secs. Wildcats went into the second interval with a 9-2 lead thanks to Malasinski’s hat trick goal 12 seconds from the buzzer.

By now many of the home fans were willing the game to end early - indeed it was perhaps a surprise that Planet Ice staff didn’t lock the doors to keep them in!

Things didn’t get much better for Nick Poole’s men in the third session. In fact they got worse as Kostal beat King after 44mins 15secs.

When Lightning did finally get their third goal - a fine Ross Bowers shot on 55mins exactly - the cheers were understandably muted.

But there was more to come as Sam Bullas restored Swindon’s eight goal lead at 56mins 54secs.

There are nights to remember - and nights to forget. This one to forget - unfortunately it will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.