Carr the star as MK Lightning win English Premier League Cup for first time
MKL superstar Adam Carr wrote himself into the book of Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning legends when he delivered the one trophy that had eluded the team during their 15 year history - the English Premier League Cup, on Saturday.
Captain Carr who has played for the club since 2003 scored the decisive penalty to defeat Peterborough Phantoms 4-0 and send the vast majority of the capacity crowd at MK Arena delirious.
Lightning had won the end of season play-offs four times and the league title three times but never before had they won the league cup - having previously been beaten finalists.
But if the accolades went to the Durham born 32 year old, credit should also go to Finn Antti Hölli whose two brilliantly taken goals sent Lightning on their way to victory and ensured the game went into overtime after Peterborough had won the first leg 2-1.
Phantoms suffered a penalty call on Edgars Bebris after only 22 seconds when he was called for tripping - however the hosts couldn’t produce a scoring shot.
But in this second tie the night belonged to Lightning from the moment Jordan Cownie made the pass from defence to Lewis Hook to feed Hölli who sped up the ice to fire high into the net past goalie Janis Auzins after 12mins 34secs - giving the home team the vital breakthrough they needed.
At this stage Lightning were very much on the charge and then James Neil - an astute signing by coach Pete Russell after the collapse of Manchester Phoenix - started the move which saw Hook supply Hölli almost exactly replicate his first goal on 27mins 34secs.
Home supporters then started to have every reason to believe that the trophy could be heading to the city for the first time.
Russell’s men had to defend three penalties early in the third session - one spilling over from the middle stanza - but still Phantoms could not find a way through the dogged penalty kill units.
Any hope they had of a comeback to snatch the point they needed to wrap up the trophy in regulation time was eventually destroyed when Blaz Emersic’s behind the net pass found Frankie Bakrlik who rifled the puck home at Auzins’ right post on 50mins 54secs.
With 4mins 36secs remaining of the 60 minutes Phantoms’ coach Slava Koulikov replaced Auzins with back up goalie Adam Long.
But when overtime began Russell chose to stick with Przemy Odrobny in between the pipes and Koulikov appeared to have a change of mind, restoring his number one goalie to the ice. That meant neither side were able to play any import outskaters during the extra five minutes which produced no further score despite Hook sending James Griffin away, only to be thwarted by Auzins.
Carr then went agonisingly close - his powerful effort was only parried by the goalie and almost trickled over the line before it was retrieved ahead of Hook’s shot being saved in the dying seconds of the extra period.
So penalties loomed with Odrobny in confident mood - and more importantly out-psyching extra Phantoms spot shot takers. He proved impossible to beat in the statutory three shots per team and it was not until Bebris’ attempt was blocked that Carr was able to crash the puck high into the goal past Auzins to secure the English Premier League Cup for Lightning in their final season in the league before the move to the Elite competition.