MK LIGHTNING’S slim hopes of a place in the English Premier League Cup semi finals were well and truly extinguished by Slough Jets when a third period goal by Doug Sheppard consigned them to a 3-2 defeat.
The city side needed to win at The Hangar on Saturday - plus Jets to lose their final cup game against Bracknell Bees - to have any chance of clinching fourth place and a semi spot.
However Lightning, with much changed lines, bounced back on Sunday with an emphatic 8-3 win against Bracknell at Planet Ice.
Lightning were facing an uphill battle from the moment Darius Pliskauskas beat Alex Mettam for Jets’ first goal on 8m1s - the away side unable to strike back in the opening session despite having the benefit of a powerplay.
Things got even worse within 2m28s of the restart as Sheppard netted on a delayed penalty to make it 2-0. But Lightning were not beaten yet and Nick Poole scored on a powerplay on 25m 41s.
Spurred by this Adam Brittle brought the tallies level at 34m31s and that’s the way it stayed at the second break.
But a 47th minute powerplay proved decisive with Sheppard grabbing his second of the game to give Jets a 3-2 lead from which they never surrendered.
The following night Bees looked a beaten side from almost the moment Adam Carr’s behind the net clearance round the boards was collected by Leigh Jamieson to go all the way to goal and score at 7m13s.
The Lightning lines had an unfamiliar look about them with Michael Wales and Andre Smulter joining Monir Kalgoum on the first line. Gary Clarke and Leigh Jamieson, playing as a forward, teamed up with Nick Poole on the second and Jamie Line and Jacob Heron rotated in forming the third with Matt Towalski and Adam Brittle.
Bees looked like they’d gone into hibernation for the winter as home stopper Barry Hollyhead - making his first appearance since being injured several weeks ago - had hardly anything to do.
Lightning doubled the lead on 14m 27s when on the powerplay. Michael Farn blasted the puck towards goal from distance and Poole redirected it past netminder Carl Ambler.
The hosts outshot Bees 17-6 in that opening session and it was a similar tale in the second with a 14-7 shots on goal total - the main difference being that Lightning scored from four of them.
The first came just 1m20s into the period when Clarke netted after an earlier Poole effort was blocked.
Clarke quickly added his second with an unassisted goal on 24m52s before Bees conceded possession to Andre Smulter while they were on a powerplay - the Finn able to skate away unimpeded to beat Ambler at 27m 14s.
Smulter turned provider to send Monir Kalgoum away to beat the goalie one on one to make it 6-0 after 37m56s and with just over a minute remaining Smulter was unlucky in hitting the post with a fierce effort.
Bees finally awoke from their sleepy slumber in the third period - outshooting Lightning by 17-10 - with some reward, getting their first goal by Valdemar Pelikovsky on 44m45s.
The six goal lead was restored soon after though when Lukas Zatopek fired in from distance at 54m36s. But Bees managed to score two more through Craig Tribe and Nicky Watt after 56m2s and 57m21s.
Lightning would have the last word though as Smulter shot high into the goal in the dying seconds to complete the rout - the perfect remedy to their travel sickness of the previous night.
This Saturday Lightning face one of their toughest home games in weeks when the league leaders Manchester Phoenix visit, face off 7pm. By way of contrast, Poole’s men should pick up another two points when they go to Bracknell on Sunday at 6pm.