Lightning back with a cracker after Christmas break

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LIGHTNING served up a Christmas feast of goals as they defeated Bracknell Bees 6-2 at Planet Ice on Thursday night.

Lightning were missing the injured Chris Wiggins and the suspended Nick Chinn, leaving the third line a player short, and thus young Connor Goode was given the chance to shine.

The English Premier League again experimented with a two man refereeing system for the game, with Tim Pickett and Matt Thompson wearing the stripes.

After an opening five minutes in which both sides were testing each other out without really seriously troubling the netminders, it was Lightning who broke the deadlock with a goal after 6mins 28secs.

Nick Poole was the provider for Adam Carr whose shot from the left looked to be well covered by goalie Tom Annetts. However, it found a gap to the Bees man’s right and hit the back of the net.

A minute later Lightning were fairly ineffective on the powerplay when Grant Rounding was penalised for tripping Ross Bowers as he sought to break away up centre ice. But they made up for it in tremendous style on the next powerplay as Lukas Smital was sin binned for hooking Kamil Tvrdek in front of goal.

The Czech exacted his revenge on Bees in the best way possible with a first time shot into the goal on 14mins 3secs from Leigh Jamieson’s cross from the left for the first of three powerplay goals.

The strike was just reward for a powerplay which at last showed some movement in front of goal with the extra man. A couple of minutes later there was a moment of anxiety for Lightning when Matt Foord went crashing to the net, but goalie Alex Mettam was up to the challenge.

Michael Farn then went close with a shot from a pass from behind the net but Annetts was able to save. The goalie couldn’t do much though after Sam Oakford was called for holding Carr on the boards behind the Bees goal.

Once again it was the victim who was able to make the powerplay pay with the Lightning captain blasting from the blue line high to the right of Annetts for the home team’s third goal at 19mins 1secs to make it 3-0 at the break.

Lightning came out all guns blazing in the middle session and again dominated the play in the opening five minutes, with the reward of a fourth goal after 25mins 2secs. Carr was this time the provider for Adam Brittle to fire home to the right of Annetts.

Less than two minutes later the Bees goalie was picking the puck out of the net again as Lightning struck for the third time on the powerplay at 26mins 45secs.

Scott Spearing was penalised for charging Goode, giving Blaz Emersic the chance to set up Tvrdek who did not look like he was going to shoot when he smashed the puck into the goal. That signalled the departure of Annetts who was replaced by Carl Ambler.

A couple of minutes later he was severely tested as Carr put in a great shot – luckily for him he was able to save. There was then a delay to the game after Jamieson clashed with Spearing before Emersic came to his defence. Jamieson then became embroiled with Alan Lack.

All four players were sin binned – Lack for a total of six minutes for roughing, Spearing two minutes for cross checking, Jamieson two minutes for interference and four for roughing, and Emersic two for roughing.

The fisticuffs did nothing for Bees’ game though as Lightning maintained their grip – outshooting the visitors 21 shots to five in the second period alone.

Facing the prospect of a rout, Bracknell stepped up a gear in the third session, with Jan Bendik putting in a fierce shot early on, and Mettam having to deal with an awkward effort from Lukas Smital.

But for all their efforts, it was Lightning who added to their tally when Tvrdek received the puck from Jamieson just inside the blue line and fired high into the goal for his team’s sixth goal at 49mins 33secs.

However, any thoughts Mettam had of a shutout were rudely wrecked just seconds later – Ollie Bronnimann supplying Rob Lamey to score for the visitors on 49mins 52secs.

Buoyed by the goal, Bees made it two less than a minute later with Andy Munroe the provider for Smital at 50mins 44secs as Lightning failed to clear their zone.

It didn’t spark a late rally from Bees though and Lightning could have had a seventh goal when man of the match Tvrdek set up Emersic who shot just wide in the final four minutes.

Mettam had efforts by Ben Johnson and Bronniman to deal with, but the hosts retained their 6-2 lead to send their fans home happy.

The game was the first of three in four days for Lightning who entertain league leaders Basingstoke Bison on Saturday night before going to Peterborough Phantoms on Sunday.