A tremendous late surge from MK Lightning saw them secure victory in overtime at Manchester Phoenix on Sunday.
With less than six minutes of regulation time remaining they were trailing 3-1 and looked to be heading for a second defeat of the weekend following Saturday’s 4-3 loss at home to Swindon Wildcats.
Phoenix’s Stanislav Gron made it 3-1 on the powerplay at 54mins 5secs while Bobby Chamberlain was serving a two plus 10 minute penalty for misconduct. A little more than a minute later, on 55mins 15secs, Blaz Emersic cut the gap to give the visitors a ray of hope.
With 1min 37secs left coach Pete Russell called a time out to withdraw goalie Jordan Marr in favour of the extra skater, producing an almost instantaneous result as Marko Luomala fired home past home netminder Stephen Fone seven seconds later for the equaliser.
That sent the encounter into overtime before, with a shootout looming, Jordan Cownie and Emersic set up Leigh Jamieson to level with 52 seconds left.
Manchester had taken the lead more than half way through the game when former Lightning player Jacob Corson Heron was provider for Ben Wood at 32mins 32secs.
There was a swift response from MK when Lewis Hook – assisted by Michael Farn and Cownie – levelled 1min 19secs afterwards.
But Phoenix ended the session in front when another ex-Lightning man, James Archer, was supplier for Robin Kovar after 34mins 7secs.
Gron’s goal seemed to have decided the match but Lightning had other ideas as they launched their late rally.
A day earlier Lightning fell to a 4-0 deficit – undeservedly – before hitting back with three third session goals against Swindon at MK Arena.
The difference between the two teams was the goalkeeping of former Great Britain stopper Stevie Lyle who thwarted Lightning time and time again.
Lightning trailed by two goals at the first break but it was an unreal scoreline with the sides largely evenly matched in a game played at breakneck speed.
The impressive Carlo Finucci – Wildcats’ man of the match - supplied Jan Kostal for a blast which MK netminder Dean Skinns saved.
In a prelude to the opening goal - Finucci shot in from the tightest of angles on the right.
Skinns was able to save that attempt but he was unable to stop Finucci’s second similar effort on 16mins 58secs.
Finucci was also involved in Swindon’s second strike 38 seconds from the interval when he made the pass from behind the goal for new Wildcats player coach Aaron Nell to score.
The second period was just 38 seconds old when Grant McPherson did battle with Matt Selby – both earning four minutes in the sin bin.
Initially it failed to provide the spark for a Lightning revival with Skinns being called on to save a long range Neil Liddiard shot.
But from then on the home stopper had hardly anything to do until the third goal.
First Bobby Chamberlain was thwarted by Lyle after he went on a charge with Marko Luomala.
Jamieson and Chamberlain both had attempts on goal ahead of Lewis Christie’s sin binning for holding in the 35th minute. The best of defence was attack and, while shorthanded, Emersic and Chamberlain combined with the Brit going agonisingly close to pulling a goal back.
It was a bitter blow then when Neil Liddiard sent Tomasz Malasinski away to make it 3-0 with 34 seconds of the period remaining.
Two minutes 51 seconds into the final session Skinns made the initial save from Jonas Hoog but could not stop Nell scoring on the rebound.
It looked to be game over but MK refused to give up and they were rewarded when Markku Tahtinen set up Glenn Billing to score at 43mins 37secs.
Less than four minutes later the great fightback really looked to be on as Lewis Hook sent Cownie away to shoot high to the far side of Lyle on 47mins 3secs.
Wildcats were not allowed to put any pressure on the MK net as James Griffin was sent to the penalty box for cross checking in the 54th minute. Instead Lightning went on the offence with Hook winning possession before reducing the deficit to one goal on 54mins 58secs.
Alas the hosts were unable to get to leveller to send the game into overtime with Swindon pressure preventing the withdrawal of Skinns for the extra skater in the dying seconds.