FOLLOWING their historic win over league champions Invicta Dynamos last time out, MK Thunder were in confident mood on Sunday when the Bristol Pitbulls arrived in town for the two sides’ third English National League encounter of the season.
Both sides had won a game apiece in those previous meetings, but this time Bristol were never at the races as in the opening period Thunder opened up a commanding 4-0 lead and eventually went on to win 6-2.
Thunder captain Ross Bowers was in quite scintillating form throughout the game, but it was young Connor Goode who opened the scoring in the second minute when he pounced on a rebound from an Aram Todd shot to force the puck home, Martyn Snape with the second assist.
Pitbulls had little to offer in offence and when they did manage to get shots on goal they found Mark Woolf in goal equal to them. And Thunder’s pressure was rewarded again mid period when a good flowing move between Todd, Maros Stefanco and Bowers saw the skipper finish from a tight angle for his first of the night.
It was Stefanco who made it 3-0 two minutes later on Thunder’s first powerplay of the night. Jamie Randall fed the puck to Matt Roberts who quickly found Stefanco for the young Slovakian to move behind the goal and back out for the wrap around.
The hosts’ fourth goal and Bowers’ second came from an opportunistic breakaway attack. With the visitors on a powerplay, Lee Featherstone got possession and found Bowers with a long pass up centre ice. Bowers had the clean breakway and beat Crisp in the Pitbulls net with a smart snap shot.
When Thunder made it 5-0 early in the second period it was well and truly game over for Bristol. Bowers’ hat-trick goal was another powerplay strike scored from a tight angle, this time set up by Randall.
It looked likely that the home side would run up a big score after that, but it never happened. The idea of scoring appeared to take over from the need to play responsible hockey and although Bristol were down they definitely weren’t out.
Thunder’s players were caught out of position too many times and they were eventually punished as Bristol scored twice before the final break to make the last period a lot more nervy than it should have been.
But that break allowed Thunder to re-focus and their performance in the final period was much more business like - they tightened up in defence and were less frantic in attack.
And in the end man of the match Bowers made it comfortable with his fourth of the night in the 46th minute - yet another powerplay goal assisted by Stefanco and Gore to make it 6-2.
Roberts was dismissed from the game shortly afterwards when he took exception to a penalty call on a perfectly good hit and wasn’t slow in letting the referee know his opnion. However, the re-arranged defence had few problems to deal with and Thunder ran out easy winners.
This weekend Thunder are at home to Oxford City Stars on Saturday, face off 7pm, before going down to Gillingham on Sunday to take on Invicta Dynamos who will no doubt be looking for revenge following their surprise to the city side.