French team, Gothiques D’Amiens gave Smith Milton Keynes Lightning a tough work out in their final pre-season challenge match at MK Arena on Tuesday – the Ligue Magnus outfit edging the battle 4-3.
Amiens who finished in mid-table last year in a league generally recognised to be a level above the Elite League snatched victory with a short-handed goal by Phillippe Halley on 56mins 40secs after a Lightning powerplay was turned over, the impressive Tommy Giroux intercepting a misplaced pass.
There was little to choose overall between the two teams – Lightning enjoying a dream start when captain Kevin King scored unassisted after only 17 seconds.
But Pete Russell’s men were unable to build on that lead when Jéréme Romand was sin binned after 56 seconds for delaying the game.
With Prezmy Odrobny side-lined through injury and temporary replacement, Miika Wiikman, rested Lightning started the game with Jordan Hedley in between the pipes. The young Brit was left stranded as a shot came in from the left for Amiens’ equaliser on 8mins 25secs scored by Elie Marcos, assisted by Giroux and Anze Kuralt.
Within 90 seconds Lightning were back in front as Guillaume Doucet was the provider for Glenn Billing to net from close range.
When Kevin Gibson was penalised for charging Rudy Matima 11 seconds from the end of the first period Amiens exacted swift revenge with another leveller, this time from the stick of Todd Perry just one second before the buzzer.
Matima wasted a golden opportunity to put Amiens ahead just to left of goal when he shot wide soon after the restart before Perry saw his blue line shot saved by Hedley.
The early pressure eventually paid off with Amiens taking the lead for the first time on 25mins 54secs when Matima was the supplier for Romand.
Lightning sought to get themselves back in the game with King and Denny Kearney launching a promising raid, only to be closed down close to the Amiens goal.
They did level however after Amiens captain Jonathan Narbonne was sin binned for slashing on 32mins 42secs – Christian Isackson setting up Kearney for a shot from the right which went in at the far side of Amiens’ netminder Henri-Corentin Buysse at 34mins 45secs for a powerplay strike.
The third session opened with Quin Pompi testing Buysse with a shot which he fumbled before recovering while Romain Bault tested Adam Long who had replaced Hedley in the 30th minute.
Both sides were reduced to four skaters when Isackson retaliated after Halley was called for clipping – the MK man going for kneeing after 43mins 49secs. There was little to trouble either netminder with the reduction in the number of skaters.
Amiens were unable to make a holding penalty on Kearney pay off for them after 53mins 9secs but they did do better while short-handed with Marcos in the sin bin for holding at 56mins 13secs – thanks to the breakdown of an MK powerplay attack, Halley scoring the winning goal past Long 27 seconds later.
On Saturday Lightning travel to Elite League champions Cardiff Devils for their first Challenge Cup match while on Sunday they open their league campaign at MK Arena against Belfast Giants who were runners up last season. Face off on Sunday is 5.30pm.