Milton Keynes Lightning are Coventry-bound next weekend after snatching their place in the most dramatic style imaginable against Slough Jets.
In the final Lightning game to take place at Planet Ice before the rink is refurbished it took an overtime goal by Captain Adam Carr ‘Superstar’ to book a semi final spot against Guildford Flames on Saturday afternoon.
The goal sent the home fans wild and left Jets and their supporters totally dejected.
Lightning held the upper hand after the first leg with a 4-2 win at The Hangar on Saturday.
In that encounter Slough took the lead on the powerplay through Ciaran Long after only 5mins 17secs but Lightning replied thanks to Blaz Emersic after 9mins 41secs.
Lightning edged in front on the powerplay 30 seconds from the second break with Janne Jokila supplying Kamil Tvrdek for a powerplay goal.
The visitors took a 4-1 lead in final session with Chris Wiggins bagging the third at 50mins 11secs and Nick Chinn getting a powerplay goal on 51mins 34secs before Dan Davies secured a vital second goal for Jets with five minutes 46 seconds remaining.
Lightning’s two goal lead was quickly halved in the return match when Dan Scott sent Aaron Connolly free to shoot high into the goal past Stephen Wall with just 2mins 20secs gone.
The hosts then suffered a massive blow when influential Slovenian Emersic was ejected from the game on a five minutes plus match penalty for checking Dan Davies from behind – the Jets man hitting the boards behind the Lightning goal just before the end of the first period.
It looked a harsh penalty – boarding looked like a more appropriate call. And it threatened to put Emersic out of the semi final. However after Davies was able to return to the ice it was down graded to a game penalty so Emersic will be able to play.
Home fans hearts began to sink when Slough drew level with Lightning on aggregate thanks to a Ciaran Long strike after 28mins 47secs – the Jets man given too much space – while Lewis Christie was sitting out a tripping penalty.
In truth Jets were bossing the game – the shots on goal providing the evidence with the home side only able to manage five in the first session and six in the second while Jets were on target 14 times in each of those periods.
Wall had to be on top form to make a great save from a quick fire Pavel Gomeniuk shot in the 33rd minute while at the other end, Carr went close from an Adam Brittle set up.
Never the less the score remained 2-0 to Jets on the night so there was still all to play for going into the final period.
This time Lightning were able to up their shooting but it was to no real effect – Michael Farn’s 43rd minute blue line rebounding off the netminder but with no one in place to follow up.
Fine work by Janne Jokila saw him set up Nick Chinn in front of goal but the veteran forward was unable to connect.
A Lightning powerplay when Frantisek Bakrlik was penalised for tripping proved no advantage for Lightning who failed to produce a single shot on goal.
Three penalties on Jets in quick succession prompted a time out by the hosts but still their powerplay units failed to come up with the goods.
So with the score 4-4 on aggregate at the end of regulation time five minutes of sudden death overtime was in store – until Carr brought the house down with his tie winning goal just eight seconds after the restart.
It ensured that the final Lightning game before the summer start of the refurbishment programme did not end in a damp squib as fans celebrated the end of an era with the promise of a bright new future when they return from playing next season’s home games at Coventry Skydome.
Now they will arrive at their temporary new home a little early….five months early in fact.