Lighting brought back down to earth after winning start

Lightning vs Bracknell. Pic: Tony Sargent.
Lightning vs Bracknell. Pic: Tony Sargent.

Three goals in as many third period minutes ensured Lightning eased to an impressive 6-3 opening league game victory over Bracknell Bees at MK Arena on Saturday.

But there was disappointment when Lightning travelled to Manchester Phoenix on Sunday and went down 4-2 at Deeside.

Lightning vs Bracknell. Pic: Tony Sargent.

Lightning vs Bracknell. Pic: Tony Sargent.

Against Bracknell the hosts took charge in the middle session after a poor first period to go in 3-1 ahead at the second break.

Pete Russell’s charges made sure of victory after Bees Tom Relf was sin binned for tripping David Clements as he made tracks for goal.

The Bees net came under siege during the powerplay before fired home from distance at 52mins 5secs.

Back at full strength Bees were unable to control the Rene Jarolin and Blaz Emersic going up the left - the Slovenian finishing off for MK’s fifth goal after 53mins 50secs.

Lightning vs Bracknell. Pic: Tony Sargent.

Lightning vs Bracknell. Pic: Tony Sargent.

James Griffin made it six 58 seconds later after Grant McPherson and Luc Johnson had both gone close.

Lightning then seemed to relax and former MK sniper Milan Kostourek was able to add two more to Bees tally on 55mins 3secs and 57mins 31secs to give the score an air of respectability for the Berkshire outfit.

Bees had opened the scoring when Griffin was called for interference on Kostourek at 6mins 10secs.

Frantisek Bakrlik fired in a blue line rocket through traffic 61 seconds later to beat netminder Dean Skinns.

Lightning vs Bracknell. Pic: Tony Sargent.

Lightning vs Bracknell. Pic: Tony Sargent.

Bakrlik went close shortly after and in reply Marko Luomala forced a fine save from goalie Alex Mettam with a long range shot.

Lightning levelled when Cook dispossessed his marker and raced away to fire top shelf into the net on 13mins 31secs.

It was not until Lightning coach Pete Russell called a timeout immediately after Bobby Chamberlain and Bees’ Scott Spearing were sin binned for a dust up in front of the Bees goal in the latter part of the second period that the hosts’ took charge.

Lightning had a five on three powerplay when Luomala sent in a brilliant pass from the right which Tahtinen despatched to the back of the net on 35mins 30secs.

Lightning vs Bracknell. Pic: Tony Sargent.

Lightning vs Bracknell. Pic: Tony Sargent.

Just over two minutes later Bobby Chamberlain went up the right and with no Bees player picking up Luomala’s charge up the centre the Finn beat Mettam once more after 37mins 40secs.

On Sunday the city side staged a late rally against Phoenix - forced to move to Deeside this year after being ousted from their Altrincham home. But goals by Adam Carr and Leigh Jamieson proved to be of no avail.

Lightning got most of the early shots on goal but found home netminder Stephen Fone in fine form, stopping all fired at him.

Phoenix’s Robin Kovar twice went close before Blaz Emersic was sin binned for hooking on 14mins 36secs.

Phoenix made the most of the powerplay with Kovar and new Finnish import Nico Aaltonen setting up Slovakian Stanislav Gron to beat Skinns at 15mins 33secs. It was to be the only goal of the session although Jack Watkins had a good chance against his old team.

Lightning’s first powerplay came when Jacob Corson-Heron was called for tripping after 27mins 21secs. However it came to nothing.

Russell’s men were reduced to three skaters when Jamieson followed Markku Tahtinen into the sin bin on a four minute penalty for slashing and abuse of an official on 34mins 12secs - the Finn having gone less than two minutes earlier for hooking.

But Manchester were unable to capitalise with the two man advantage but they did go in at the second break further ahead thanks to a second strike from newcomer Gron 1min 44secs from the interval.

The match slipped further away from Lightning 1min 12secs into the third period when James Archer was the provider for Kovar to score.

Archer got in on the scoring act 2mins 21secs later - Kovar returning the compliment as the supplier.

It seemed to be game over, especially when Lightning failed to make the most of a succession of Manchester penalties on Ben Russell, Luke Boothroyd and Gron.

But they gave themselves just a glimmer of hope when Jack Watkins provided the pass for Carr to register after 49mins 32secs.

Hopes were further raised as Tahtinen set up Jamieson to score on the powerplay with 7mins 37secs remaining - Boothroyd in penalty box for interference.

Russell then called a timeout to plan a late assault but it was derailed when Jamieson was given two minutes for holding at 56mins 36secs.

Jamieson tried to make amends on his return to the ice but was stopped in his raid on goal as Phoenix ran out winners.

Lightning’s next opponents at MK Arena on Saturday are Sheffield Steeldogs - face off 7pm. On Sunday they go to Peterborough Phantoms, face off 5.30pm.