There’s still all to play for in the second leg of the English Premier League Cup semi final after MK Lightning staged a middle session fightback to draw 3-3 with Peterborough Phantoms at MK Arena on Wednesday.
After Peterborough took a two-goal lead in the first five minutes of the second session they appeared to sit back a little – that gave MK the chance to step up their game, eventually being rewarded with two goals in the last five minutes of the period.
A tremendous rocket blast from Frankie Bakrlik within 46 seconds of the start of the final session put the home team in the driving seat – only for the Cambridgeshire side to hit back within two minutes to make it 3-3.
With no further goals there was nothing to separate the combatants going in to the deciding leg at Bretton next Wednesday.
Lightning made a slow start as Peterborough had much of the early play and it was they who went close to scoring through Ales Padelek after Lewis Christie was penalised for a high stick on 2mins 45secs.
Phantoms edged in front on 7mins 24secs when Milan Baranyk fed Marc Levers to poke the puck in from close range – the player looking suspiciously as though he was in the goalie’s crease.
It was not until the half way point of the period that the home side produced anything to trouble Phantoms netminder Janis Auzins – when Bakrlik then blasted towards goal from the blue line but effort was saved.
Lightning stopper Dean Skinns pushed away a Darius Pliskauskas attempt from an acute angle before Leigh Jamieson tried his luck from the blue line.
Seconds later Adam Carr’s shot hit the right pipe and came out just a moment after Jack Watkins had forced Auzins into a hurried save which he could not hold.
The last couple of minutes of the period saw Lightning turn up the pressure – Bobby Chamberlain found Emersic, only for his shot to go wide.
In the final minute Jordan Cownie sent Bakrlik one on one with the goalie who was able to block the shot.
Phantoms’ opportunities were restricted as Markku Tahtinen was penalised for booking in the first two minutes of the middle stanza.
But back at even strength Lightning were caught out as Will Weldon’s initial shot was blocked but not held by Skinns – Tom Norton was there to follow up to make it 2-0 to Phantoms at 24mins 19secs.
Facing a big task to get back in the game Lightning’s powerplay challenge was snuffed out when Robbie Ferrara was sidelined for two minutes for boarding.
But the hosts’ big fightback began when James Ferrara was called for an identical offence at 35mins 37secs. Within 19 seconds a Leigh Jamieson slapshot from the blue line crashed into the back of the net to narrow the gap.
Sheer determination by young Glenn Billing earned him the equaliser less than two minutes later – taking Adam Carr’s pass to register from close range at 37mins 18secs.
When Lewis Christie supplied Bakrlik to unleash a powerful shot within 46 seconds of the final session Auzins appeared to have made the save but he failed to hold the puck and it crept over the line.
Lightning’s joy was short lived, however, with Martins Susters making the pass for Weldon’s to equalise at 42mins 7secs.
Both sides then turned up the gas as they sought the morale boosting game winner to take into the second leg – but it failed to materialise so there is plenty more life in this clash of the arch rivals next week.