The exertions of qualifying for the final of the English Premier League Cup apparently told on Lightning when they were well beaten on Saturday by the team they will play in the competition.
Basingstoke Bison ran out 6-2 victors in a game they controlled from the moment they established a three goal advantage by the 12th minute.
On Sunday Lightning came close to pulling off a late comeback at Sheffield Steeldogs when they recovered from going 3-0 down with two late goals – only to concede a fourth goal with five seconds remaining to ensure the city side ended the weekend pointless.
Against Bison once the visitors had scored three goals it always looked as though any fight Lightning could put up was going to be in vain. It did not help that they were outshot 15-6 in the first period.
Nick Poole’s men failed to score on the powerplay when Miroslav Vantroba was sin binned shortly after the first puck dropped and then they went behind after 6mins 47secs after netminder Stephen Wall blocked but didn’t take possession of a fine shot by Ciaran Long. Nick Chinn was there to snap up the loose puck and touch on to Joe Greener to complete.
Lightning were still recovering from that goal when less than a minute after Bison made it 2-0 with Tomas Karpov supplying Andrew Melachrino to defeat Wall on 7mins 29secs.
Greener added to the tally when he shot through Wall’s legs to make it 3-0 after 11mins 56secs.
Stan Lascek had a great try a minute later but netminder Dean Skinns snuffed out the danger.
Lightning were equally unable to score on another powerplay which ended with hardly a shot on the Bison net while Zach Sullivan in the sin bin for hooking.
Lightning had Grant McPherson called slashing late in the period but the penalty kill unit held firm
The hosts commenced the middle stanza in more determined mood but it was Bison who scored next when Long shot in, Wall blocked but didn’t hold and again Greener was there to follow up on 26mins 23secs.
The home side then found themselves defending a five on three short handed spell – Leigh Jamieson following Tom Carlon to the penalty box at midpoint in the game.
Stuart Mogg came straight off the bench to catch out Wall from outside the blue line at 32mins 31secs to make it 5-0.
Adam Carr eventually struck for Lightning after Skinns failed to hold a slapshot from Michael Farn – but the ‘goal’ was washed out as the net had already been pushed off by Matt Selby.
He was sin binned for two minutes for delaying the game - and Lightning finally registered on the powerplay with Lukas Zatopek blasting in from the right. Skinns got a touch but failed to cover and Stan Lascek followed up to score at 37mins 5secs.
Bison restored their five goal lead within 3mins 12secs of the start of the final session when Wall got a handle on a Tomas Karpov blast from distance but was unable to stop the puck from creeping over the line.
A super blue line blast from Michael Farn on 50mins 31secs totally eluded Skinns to give Lightning their second goal but that was the closest they got.
The following evening at iceSheffield the first period ended scoreless with neither side able to press their advantage on the powerplay – the hosts benefiting first when Lewis Christie was sin binned for hooking and then MK not able to capitalise with Lee Haywood in the box for tripping.
Sheffield eventually broke the deadlock when Edgars Bebris supplied Greg Wood to fire home after 32mins 48secs before Craig Elliott added another for the home team less than a minutes later at 33mins 36secs.
The third period was just 54 seconds old when Lightning’s task seemed to become impossible with Andrew Hirst the scorer for Steeldogs, taking the tally to 3-0.
It was a major brawl that possibly altered the course of the game slightly – four players from each receiving penalties with just over ten minutes remaining.
But first Lightning had to defend a bench penalty for changing lines on icing before Lascek supplied Christie to score at 54mins 53secs.
The visitors withdrew Hedley for the extra skater with less than a minute to go – producing an almost instant goal for Lascek with 50 seconds remaining. However that was cancelled out with Sheffield scoring on the empty net through Greg Chambers five seconds from the buzzer.