A scintillating start from Milton Keynes Lightning set them up for a comfortable 5-1 victory over Dundee Stars at MK Arena on Saturday.
But the team’s disappointing form on the road continued on Sunday when they were beaten 5-2 after the long trip to Kirkcaldy in Scotland to face Fife Flyers.
Lightning found the net three times in just over five opening minutes as the Stars’ leaky defence was exposed. That prompted an early timeout by the Scottish outfit and although MK added another goal in the 14th minute that was it until the final minutes of the game.
However the major drama came when linesperson Sam Motton was stretchered off and taken to hospital after being accidentally knocked over when Lightning’s Alex Forbes and stars Cam McGiffin clashed in front of the visitors’ bench. It was almost certainly the first time that an official had required such treatment during a professional match at MK Arena; fortunately he was released from hospital the next morning.
As a result the game continued using a two man referee system – the other linesperson Matt Rose donning original referee Stefan Hogarth’s spare shirt.
It was Matt Nickerson who got Lightning off the mark after 1min 45secs and within 27 seconds of an interference call on Emerson Hrynyk the hosts doubled their lead when Guillaume Doucet to blast a slapshot past goalie Travis Fullerton from the blue line.
Kyle Essery then fired home a cracking goal with an upstairs shot on 5mins 7secs – leading to a Stars’ timeout.
Dundee had a brief spell of pressure before Francis Verreault-Paul was fed by Denny Kearney fed to register Lightning’s fourth goal on 14mins 14secs – the shot going high into the net.
Stars’ period break chat resulted in the introduction of Plan B for it was a different side that took the ice in the second session – adopting a tighter defensive strategy.
Nevertheless it was Lightning who had the better chance short-handed after Kevin King was called for slashing 25 seconds after the restart. Essery sent Hook away, only for the goalie to block his attempt.
Moments later came the incident which ended with Mr Motton’s injury – causing a delay of nearly quarter of an hour while medics dealt with him.
Once play resumed Lightning’s dominance was reduced and they were unable to register on a five on three powerplay as the second session ended with no further score.
Five minutes into the third session Stars’ Justin Fox was thrown out on a misconduct penalty following a fight with MK’s Doucet. Verreault-Paul was then given his marching orders for a check to the head of Jimmy Jensen – the incident resulting in another fight.
Seconds later King was called for slashing and with a man advantage Stars grabbed their solitary goal with Brian Hart scoring on a rebound at 51mins 38secs.
Stars withdrew Fullerton for the final two minutes in favour of the extra skater but it backfired when Tommy Mele scored on the empty net with 86 seconds remaining to make it 5-1.
Lightning left snow-bound Milton Keynes before most people had risen for breakfast on Sunday to make the long journey to Kirkcaldy by coach – and they were probably wondering whether it was worth it despite holding Fife to a 1-1 scoreline at the end of the first period.
The damage was done in the middle stanza with four unanswered markers from the hosts which left Lightning 5-1 behind at the second intermission.
An unassisted Chase Schaber goal put Flyers ahead after 5mins 59secs. Twenty four seconds later Lightning had their first powerplay chance when Chris Wands went to the sin bin for boarding but it was swiftly curtailed as Kearney was called for elbows 30 seconds or so later.
Doucet got Lightning back on terms with just one second of the first period remaining only for Flyers to retake the lead through Ričards Birziŋs on the powerplay at 22mins 28secs while Essery was in the penalty box for slashing.
A little over four minutes later Peter LeBlanc made it 3-1 to the home team with a goal timed at 26mins 40secs before James Isaacs added to Lightning’s woes with a strike after 27mins 21secs.
MK coach Peter Russell called an immediate timeout but it failed to turn the tide with Flyers registering a fifth goal thanks to LeBlanc again after 33mins 12secs.
When Birziŋs was penalised for slashing the travellers were able to cut the deficit with a powerplay goal from Kearney at 49mins 5secs. It was not enough though to spark a late rally from Lightning who lost 5-2.