Lightning bounce back in style with back-to-back wins

Lightning saw off Coventry at the weekend. Pic: Tony Sargent
Lightning saw off Coventry at the weekend. Pic: Tony Sargent

Milton Keynes Lightning bounced back in the best possible way at the weekend with maximum points from their two games against Coventry Blaze and high-flying Manchester Storm.

Despite going behind in both encounters they hit back to send the clashes into overtime where they sealed the points with winning goals from Paul Phillips against Blaze and Francis Verreault-Paul against Storm.

After losing at Coventry the previous weekend Lightning were looking put that defeat quickly behind them on Saturday. MK went in front on 6mins 18secs following a clever piece of work from Ludwig Karlsson who, despite facing away from goal, managed to feed the puck to Tommy Mele behind him to put away past goalie Kevin Nastiuk.

On a day when the country remembered its victims of war at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month there was something uncanny about Lightning’s second goal scored on the powerplay by Guillaume Doucet 11 seconds after Garrett Ladd was penalised for Blaze for delaying the game at 11mins 11secs.

The two goal gap didn’t last long as Blaze issued a swift reply when Ryan Dingle rifled in at the right hand post on 12mins 47secs.

It was a second period slashing penalty on Tommy Mele that proved decisive – Danick Paquette grabbing the leveller for Blaze after 36mins 7secs.

Coventry then edged in front through Gaelan Patterson on 47mins 27secs.

The response from Lightning was swift – Carl Hudson making the supply for captain Kevin King to register after 48mins 7secs.

Once more Blaze took the lead when Dax Lauwers’ blue line blast rebounded off goalie Miika Wiikman to finally reach Jordan Pietrus who made it 4-3 at 54mins 52secs.

Yet again Lightning hit back – this time even more quickly – just seven seconds later and again it was King on the mark.

That sent the game into with Lightning finally sealing the points when Phillips found space to break up the ice and fire high into the net after 63mins 33secs to secure a 5-4 victory.

On Sunday man of the match Verreault-Paul’s overtime strike ensured MK ended the weekend with maximum points after a 5-4 victory at Storm.

There was never more than a goal separating the two sides – apart from when Lightning took a two goal lead within the first four minutes of the second session. That was quickly reduced to one just over two minutes later as Manchester cut the deficit and then equalised by the half way stage.

Storm man of the match Matt Stanisz set up Mike Hammond to beat Wiikman after 2mins 18secs.

A slashing call on Shane Bakker gave Lightning a powerplay in the 13th minute and they wasted no time in making the most of it with Doucet finishing off just 21 seconds into the man advantage.

Storm’s Linden Springer was sent to the cooler only 24 seconds into the middle session. Within an incredible four seconds they were punished by Doucet’s go ahead goal.

As soon as Springer merged from the sin bin he was back there almost immediately – this time on a kneeing penalty. And again he and his team were punished in the best possible way with Phillips’ scoring against his old team at 23mins 43secs.

But Lightning’s joy at being two goals to the good was short-lived thanks to former Basingstoke Bison Ciaran Long who dragged Manchester back into the game on 25mins 59secs.

Stanisz then registered unassisted to put Storm back on terms after 28mins 36secs.

Only 4mins 43secs into the third period Matt Beca hit his ninth goal of the season to put Storm in front. The lead lasted all of 35 seconds thanks to a Verreault-Paul goal.

Lightning saw out a slashing call on Jonathan Boxill and high stick penalty on Denny Kearney with no damage and so overtime beckoned – ended prematurely thanks to Verreault-Paul’s 10th goal of the season on 62mins 10secs.

The point Storm earned put them back on the top of the Elite League with 22 points – Lightning seventh but only five points behind, such is the competitive nature of top tier hockey this year.