Flames hit The Wall but Lightning's title hopes begin to fade

Przemy Odrobny was on form for Lightning this weekend. Pic: Tony Sargent
Przemy Odrobny was on form for Lightning this weekend. Pic: Tony Sargent

Przemy ‘The Wall’ Odrobny saved not one but two penalty shots to steer MK Lightning to a 4-1 victory at Guildford Flames on Sunday.

In the third of five successive away games the first of Odrobny’s third period saves came at a crucial stage in the game with Lightning leading 2-1 at the second break. The latter block effectively ended Flames’ hopes after the visitors had gone 3-1 ahead with less than a quarter of an hour to go.

It meant that Lightning completed the six game league series against Flames having won five of the encounters – their best ever return against the side that beat them in the final of last season’s play-offs. This year few would bet on the Guildford reaching the semi-finals at Coventry in April, let alone the final.

Pete Russell’s outfit were without the suspended Frankie Bakrlik for the Surrey success – Milan Baranyk who was banned for the previous evening’s disappointing 3-2 loss at Basingstoke Bison returning to the line-up. In addition Michael Farn and Antti Hölli were missing.

In Hampshire Lightning were only sunk by Ciaran Long’s strike with less than five minutes to the buzzer, having twice held a one goal lead.

However MK’s already slim chances of winning the English Premier League title now look to have disappeared with leaders Telford Tigers chalking up another two points at Peterborough Phantoms to stay well ahead.

Guildford failed to take advantage when Lewis Christie was given a two minute penalty for interference in the seventh minute and back at full strength Lightning made them pay with Tom Carlon’s opening goal after 10mins 34secs.

Lightning held firm early in the second session when Baranyk was sent to the cooler for two minutes for holding the opponent’s stick.

Once again Flames were left to regret their failure with the extra man as Carlon bagged his second goal of the night at 28mins 19secs.

The response this time was swift and Flames cut the deficit within a minute – Odrobny finally beaten by Andrew Hemmings on 29mins 9secs.

When Jez Lundin was brought down en route to goal in the 43rd minute referee Matt Thompson awarded a penalty shot. Faced Odrobny spreading himself big in the net penalty shot taker Michal Satek’s effort hit the post – maintaining the travellers’ 2-1 advantage.

Lightning surged further in front on 45mins 53secs – the Adam Carr - Carlon - Mikolaj Lopuski line again coming up with the goods as the captain made it 3-1.

Ben Campbell then did no better than Satek when presented with a penalty shot chance – being blocked by Odrobny in the 54th minute.

Flames’ fate was totally sealed following goalie Mike Will’s withdrawal in favour of the extra skater – Jordan Cownie scoring on the empty net with five seconds remaining.

The previous evening MK stunned the hosts, Basingstoke with the opening goal coming from Lewis Hook after just 1min 51secs.

Polish stopper Odrobny pulled off a couple of great saves but could do nothing to prevent Dan Davies’ shot from going between his pads for the equaliser on 17mins 15secs to give a 1-1 score at the first break.

Bison suffered two penalties in the first half of the second session – Derek Roehl and Long being sin binned – while Lightning saw Blaz Emersic in the box for a rare high sticking call. Despite that there was no change to the scoreline.

It was not until both teams were at full strength that Cownie set up Bakrlik for another go ahead goal for Lightning at 29mins 35secs.

That was cancelled out when Bison levelled on the powerplay at 36mins 37secs through Roehl while Lewis Christie was in the sin bin for roughing.

Seconds later Bakrlik was dealt a two plus 10 minute penalty for a check to the head, but no goal resulted for Bison. The consequence for Lightning was the Czech’s suspension for the following day’s game at Guildford.

It was not until 55mins 6secs that Bison managed to find a way past Odrobny – Long sealing the points for the home outfit.

On Wednesday (February 22) Lightning will experience a taste of what life could be like in the Elite League when they entertain Manchester Storm in a challenge match at MK Arena, face off 7.30pm. MK have already announced their intention to move up to the Elite competition next season, together with Guildford.