WHAT a difference a player makes! Ten days ago Lightning faced the prospect of having to play a number of key games with only three imports after forward Monir Kalgoum sustained a serious shoulder injury.
Then ace Slovenian Blaz Emersic became available after a bust up with his club, Slough Jets. Lightning bosses moved at well - lightning speed - to snap up Emersic who then made his debut on Saturday.
The boost he gave the team was immense - spurring the side to only their third weekend double shut-out of their history, destroying old foe Peterborough Phantoms 4-0 before putting a massive dent in Guildford Flames’ title ambitions with a stunning 5-0 win in Surrey on Sunday.
The last time Lightning enjoyed back to back weekend shut-outs was on October 6 and 7 2007 when - amazingly - the opposition was Guildford and Peterborough!
And the only other time they’ve achieved a similar feat was when a 4-0 win in Swindon clinched the league title in 2005 after a 2-0 victory the previous night against the same opposition.
With Emersic in the line-up on the first line player coach Nick Poole reverted to the recognised lines following the previous weeks’ unfruitful experiments.
And it has to be said that the lines were far more effective with Peterborough not knowing what had hit them as Andre Smulter and then Nick Poole scored two goals in less than 30 seconds on 13m 58s and 14m 21s.
While Peterborough looked lethargic Lightning looked on fire from the first buzzer and Emersic could have even scored on his first shot with a shot which tested goalie Stephen Wall.
The first goal saw Emersic involved with an assist as Adam Brittle provided the pass for Smulter to dummy the goalie before firing in.
Lightning were back on the offensive straight from the face off and Poole quickly added the second, unassisted.
With just over a minute of the period remaining Emersic went solo but could not get his shot past Wall.
There were no goals in the opening half of the second session but there was plenty of action with Matt Towalski and Grant McPherson producing good chances while Thomas Jeffery tested goalie Barry Hollyhead at the other end.
Peterborough were caught napping in defence when Smulter seized on a loose puck and fired in for Lightning’s third from close range on 33m 53s, effectively ending Phantoms hopes, although both James Morgan, straight out of the penalty box, and Maris Ziedins, both tested Hollyhead.
Lukas Zatopek was called into action to block a Ziedins effort early in the third period.
The fourth goal to round off the scoring did not come until 58m 54s while Lightning were short-handed with Matt Towalski penalised for slashing.
Immediately Phantoms strangely called a timeout and took off Wall for the extra skater.
The plan backfired spectacularly when Adam Carr was able to precision place a shot in the back of the net from his own half of the ice for an empty net short handed goal at 58m54s.
The following night Lightning got off to a sensational start with two goals in the first 3min 1s - a Zatopek blue line screamer sending them on their way after just 1m 25s and Adam Brittle getting the second unassisted.
That’s the way the score remained all through the remainder of the first period and throughout all of the second.
Any thoughts second in the table Flames had of getting back in the game were extinguished when Emersic got his first goal for Lightning with 3m 25s of the third session gone.
The third line then got in on the action as Grant McPherson set up Towalski to make it 4-0 after 48m 51s. Smulter rounded things off with his third goal of the weekend for a 5-0 scoreline with 9m35s remaining - an extremely rare Flames home shutout.
Lightning go to Bracknell Bees on Thursday for a rearranged game following the postponement before Christmas, before a weekend double with Telford Tigers. They entertain Tigers at 7pm on Saturday and then go to Shropshire on Sunday, face off 5.30pm.