SIX dramatic seconds saw MK Lightning snatch a 3-2 victory from the jaws of defeat at Planet Ice on Saturday.
With only six minutes left of their clash with English Premier League big boys Manchester Phoenix, Lightning were 2-1 behind with a disappointing loss very much in prospect.
Then Phoenix called a timeout with their only aim probably being to maintain their slender lead.
However, the 30 second break only served to help Lightning. Within seconds of the restart Blaz Emersic fired in a blast from the blueline to catch goalie Steve Fone unawares for the equaliser on 54mins 27secs.
And just six seconds later, with Phoenix still stunned, Lightning shocked them further as Emersic set up Leigh Jamieson who had enough to space to turn and fire in the winner to send the home fans into raptures.
Unfortunately Lightning were unable to repeat the success in the return game with Phoenix the following day when they went down 5-2.
On Saturday Manchester had every right to feel aggrieved as for most of the first two periods they controlled the play even though it was Lightning who took a first period lead through Lukas Zatopek.
But Phoenix took only 16 seconds of the middle period to find an equaliser, and by the period end they were in front.
With Lightning at near full strength – only the injured Chris Wiggins was again missing – it was Ross Bowers who had the first chance of the game blocked by Fone.
Nick Chinn and Adam Carr were both thwarted by Fone before former MK man Bari McKenzie - a recent signing for Phoenix – tested goalie Alex Mettam without success.
The go ahead goal came on 13mins 9secs when Zatopek took possession in the neutral zone and weaved his way through to shoot from what looked to be an almost impossible angle out on the left – the puck going into the net to the far side of Fone.
Further chances for Emersic and Carr before the end of the period came and went without Lightning able to add to their score.
Manchester were quickest out of the blocks as the middle session got under way and they levelled the tallies on their first attack, with Tom Duggan finding Joachim Flaten who had time and space to beat Mettam at 20mins 16secs.
Lightning spurned an opportunity to quickly get back in the game when James Archer was given a two minute penalty for holding in the 22nd minute. But the hosts were totally ineffective on the powerplay with not a single shot on goal.
Mettam came under challenge just after the midway stage when he saved Ciaran Long’s shot and also blocked McKenzie’s follow up.
Manchester got the puck into the net after Flaten’s shot rebounded off the back boards – but the referee rightly ruled the puck had been kicked into the net.
However, Phoenix did edge ahead thanks to a powerplay goal from Derek Campbell on 39mins 30secs after Kamil Tvrdek was penalised for interference.
Lightning stepped up the pressure in the third period – Nick Poole, Adam Brittle and Carr all going close. But until the Manchester timeout it looked as though defeat was on the cards.
At Altrincham the following day Lightning were rocked by an early Manchester goal, with James Neil supplying Archer to beat Mettam after 1mins 43secs.
The visitors were forced to defend two short-handed spells but the backline survived until the two teams were reduced to four on three skaters – Manchester on the powerplay. Michal Psurny was the provider for Luke Boothroyd to make it 2-0 on 16mins 26secs.
Lightning’s response was swift with Jamieson setting up Emersic to cut the deficit at 17mins 32secs.
Lightning outshot Manchester 14-7 in the middle session but for all their efforts could not break down Fone. Indeed it was Phoenix who added to their total with an Ondrej Pozivil goal after 38mins 12secs.
There was real hope that the visitors could get something from the game when Jamieson was provider for Tvrdek after only 13 seconds of the third period.
But it was not to be – Lewis Christie was penalised for holding shortly after and from the resulting powerplay Tony Hand made it 4-2 at 43mins 49secs.
As the seconds counted down, Lightning withdrew Mettam for the extra skater and that enabled Flaten to score on the empty net with 41 seconds to the buzzer.
Another win-lose weekend keeps Lightning fourth in the league table ahead of a trip to fifth placed Slough Jets on Sunday – that after bottom side Telford Tigers visit Milton Keynes on Saturday.