LIGHTNING staged the Great Escape on Saturday to beat old rivals Peterborough Phantoms in a game they hardly deserved to win.
They were facing an agonising 2-1 defeat with only 47 seconds left of regulation time when Slovakian Juraj Gracik equalised, unleashing a super shot from distance which crashed into the net on the far side of Phantoms goalie Damien King.
At that stage the visitors were holding out for a narrow win with some negative tactics, playing three, sometimes four men on the backline to try to stifle the Lightning attack.
Overtime did not produce any further goals, so penalty shots were called for with Lightning sealing the points thanks to two successful conversions by Blaz Emersic and Adam Carr while Peterborough failed with both of their attempts.
On Sunday Lightning had a more comfortable ride at Telford Tigers, returning home with a 4-1 victory to continue a six game unbeaten streak.
After more than 20 games the English Premier League is finally beginning to spread out with the top three sides at least five points ahead of the fourth placed team. Lightning are in that leading bunch – in third spot behind Slough Jets and leaders Guildford Flames.
However, all that could change this weekend if Lightning are not on the top of their game with a double header against Jets. They go to the Hangar on Saturday, face off 6.30pm, before hosting the Berkshire side on Sunday at 5.30pm.
Michael Wales hopes to return after missing last weekend’s games with a wrist injury but Grant McPherson expects to be out for a few more weeks with a shoulder injury.
Peterborough struck after 11mins 42secs on Saturday when player coach Chris Allen fired in from distance, only for goalie Barry Hollyhead to parry the shot out to Jeff Glowa. He was able to hit the back of the net.
In a poor opening period the home side failed to seriously threaten the Phantoms net, but Emersic did have a good effort blocked early in the second session before Phantoms were able to capitalise on an error by Lewis Christie, Luke Ferrara getting the goal after 23mins 59secs.
And immediately Phantoms adopted an even more defensive approach which made it difficult for the home side to break through with effective attacks.
It was not pretty to watch but it seemed to be working until Leigh Jamieson supplied Emersic for a blue line shot which King appeared to get a touch to but could not stop on 37mins 14secs for Lightning’s first.
Any hopes that this would open up the game again proved unfounded though – Phantoms still persisting with their stifling tactics.
It was not until the final 10 minutes that Lightning stepped up the gas. By then Gracik had switched to the first line and Brittle to the second.
With 1min 10secs left on the clock Hollyhead was withdrawn for the extra skater and for the first time in a long time the ploy worked with Gracik’s equaliser when five of the out skaters were forwards. It sent the home fans wild, most knowing that it was a narrow escape.
The following day at Telford there was no such late drama as Jamieson netted within 32 seconds of the start – the third time in four games that he had scored in the first 40 seconds.
It was the only goal of the first period with Lightning not extending their advantage until 29mins 2secs when Jamieson was the supplier for Lukas Zatopek to score while Tom Norton got his first goal for the team on 32mins 42secs.
Scott McKenzie notched what was to be only a consolation goal for Telford after 48mins 15secs but that was cancelled out by a strike from Poole 56 seconds from the buzzer.
On Wednesday last week the city side saw off Basingstoke Bison 4-2 at Planet ice, with Jamieson scoring their opener after 37 seconds.
Nicky Chinn levelled things up for Bison on 27mins 19secs, but 26 seconds later Lightning were back in front thanks to Emersic before Joe Miller equalised on 33mins 11secs.
The hosts went back in front with 44 seconds remaining on the period – Poole netting and goal number four came from Gracik on an empty net after 59mins 42secs.