A super start with two goals in the opening ten minutes saw Milton Keynes Lightning to a comfortable – and welcome – home 5-2 victory over Fife Flyers at MK Arena on Sunday.
Fife were making their first visit to Milton Keynes since December 2004 when they beat Lightning 8-3 in the British National Winter Cup – the city outfit invited to take part in the competition as one of two English Premier League entrants.
This time the Kirkcaldy based club made the long journey from snowy Scotland only to find themselves a goal down after 4mins 53secs, despite the hosts being a man down with Kyle Essery serving a holding the opponent’s stick penalty.
It proved to be Lightning’s only game of the weekend because their trip to Belfast Giants on Saturday ended at Birmingham with their flight to Northern Ireland cancelled due to the adverse weather. The clubs are now trying to rearrange the game with the regular season due to end by March 25.
Kevin King and Denny Kearney broke up the ice with Kearney’s shot blocked but not held by former MK goalie, Jordan Marr, the captain snapping up the rebound.
Lightning were unable to add to their tally when star Flyers’ forward Charlie Mosey was called for interference in the seventh minute but they quickly made amends thanks to great work from Ben Foster and Alex Forbes. Foster’s close range effort was fumbled by Marr to allow Forbes to follow up for his second goal of the campaign.
Peter Russell’s men were handed another powerplay chance when Chase Schaber was sin binned for hooking but the only worthwhile effort was a blue line blast by Carl Hudson four seconds from the end of the man advantage.
Going into the middle session the score remained 2-0 to Lightning but within 22 seconds of the restart King was starting a holding penalty. That proved no problem to the hosts though and in a well defended penalty it was they who produced the best effort when Lewis Hook had his shot from the left blocked by Marr.
Lightning dominated the period, outshooting Flyers 23-10, but they couldn’t add to their score as Ričards Birziņš visited the cooler for hooking – Tommy Mele going closest.
The same player was involved in the action after Flyers returned to full strength – Mele’s shot being pushed away by Marr.
Eventually the pressure told on Flyers as great work by Foster on the right saw him thread the puck to Jonathan Boxill to plant in the back of the net for goal number three at 28mins 49secs.
However there was a swift response from Todd Dutiaume’s team when Mosey got the final touch to a long range shot from Shayne Stockton 38 seconds later.
It was Marr’s failure to hold an initial shot – this time from Kearney – that led to man of the match King’s second goal to stretch MK’s lead to 4-1 after 35mins 3secs.
The period ended with both Francis Verreault-Paul and Russ Moyer in the penalty boxes serving unsportsmanlike conduct calls – it could have been more had the Flyers man taken up his opponent’s invitation for a fight.
With both sides reduced to four skaters for the start of the third session the home outfit effectively put the game beyond Flyers 1min 12secs after the restart. This time Guillaume Doucet’s cross from the left was turned into the net by Kearney at the right post.
There was little danger posed by Flyers when Forbes was consigned to the sin bin for charging shortly after that fifth goal. The opposition’s best effort actually came after the end of their powerplay when Schaber’s shot was saved by netminder Henry Pacl – given the start over back-up Miika Wiikman.
By the time Flyers finally managed to break through it was too late to affect the result. Birziņš made the pass from behind the goal for Flyers man of the match, Carlo Finucci, to score at 50mins 3secs.
There were further chances for Lightning in the shape of attempts from Doucet (twice), King and Verreault-Paul but Marr was able to prevent any further score while Pacl denied Birziņš with Flyers best chance.