The long injury list has eventually caught up with MK Thunder as they were beaten twice at the weekend.
Missing five forwards for a number of weeks the team had, up to now, successfully adapted and continued to be competitive through sheer determination and teamwork.
This weekend however the lack of forwards had a big effect on both games, with Thunder unable to gain any points on the team above them in the league.
Saturday saw Solent Devils visit the MK Arena and leave with a 4–2 win. Throughout the game, Thunder never really generated much going forward despite the effort put in.
Devils had a 3–0 lead before Alex Whyte got Thunder on the scoreboard with goal in the sixteenth minute assisted by Nidal Phillips. The visitors regained the three goal advantage early in the second period while Thunder struggled to beat Christian Cole in the Solent net.
A powerplay opportunity mid way through the period gave the Milton Keynes side the advantage they needed and Whyte slotted home his second of the night to make it 4-2.
The final period went goalless with Damien King making some important saves and Cole matching him at the other end. At the final buzzer it was easy to see which team felt better about the game with Solent celebrating as if they’d won the cup.
So it was with some trepidation that Thunder travelled to Chelmsford on Sunday to face last season’s champions and current league leaders the Chieftains. So far this season Thunder have done well against the Essex side with a draw and a narrow 2-1 loss and for most of this game it looked as if the short benched Thunder side could hold their own. Nidal Phillips gave Thunder the lead five minutes in, assisted by the ever industrious Jamie Line, and it was looking like they would hold that lead and win the period. But when Tom Mboya was penalised for high sticks in the final minute, Chieftains quickly levelled the score through Ryan Giles.
Chieftains slowly gained control of the second period adding two further goals through Piecha and Hammond before Tom Mboya got the deftest of tip ins from just in front of goal to bring Thunder back in the game.
Throughout the two periods Damien King was making big saves keeping Thunder in with a shout but he faced a barrage of twenty four shots in the final period as Chieftains sought to close out the game. The home side scored two unanswered goals in the period from Brears and Piecha to give them a 5–2 win at the final buzzer.
Thunder will be hoping to get two or three players back from injury before they face Cardiff Devils this coming Sunday at MK Arena as they look to make that important fifth place ahead of the playoffs.