Lightning in the goals in four-point weekend

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A stunning performance from the LBJ line saw off Guildford Flames with a 4-1 win to ensure Lightning ended the weekend with four points in the bag.

The Lewis Hook, Blaz Emersic and Jordan Cownie line is fast becoming the most potent of Lightning’s combinations and the trio had a hand in three of the team’s goals on Sunday at the MK Arena.

Twenty four hours earlier in a rare weekend of two home games for the city side Lightning eased to a 6-0 victory over lower league Wightlink Raiders in the English Challenge Cup.

In that game coach Nick Poole gave ice time to some fringe players - Nidal Phillips, Alex Whyte, Connor Goode and man of the match Edward Knaggs - rotating the line combinations.

Despite that Cownie and Hook, who are now off on Great Britain Under 20 duty in the World Junior Championships, both scored and assisted the other in two of the goals. Netminder Jordan Hedley is also in the squad.

New Czech import Marek Curilla made his debut against Raiders and ended with a goal and an assist to his credit. He replaced the axed Stan Lascek two days before Saturday’s match. Lascek quickly signed for rivals Sheffield Steeldogs on a temporary basis.

Lightning stated their intentions early against the skilful but ageing Flames, scoring twice in the opening nine minutes.

They got off the mark after just 4mins 18secs when Michael Farn fed Emersic with a long pass from defence. The Slovenian lost his marker and beat goalie Gregg Rockman in a one on one challenge.

Hook, the best player on the ice, went close before he was responsible for Flames being caught out on another swift counter attack - he pushed the puck up the ice to Cownie. Then, racing after him, Hook took the return pass to make it 2-0 at 8mins 53secs.

Lightning were however unable to capitalise further when they had a 38 seconds long five on three powerplay.

Flames did better when Lewis Christie stopped a possible shot on goal but conceded a tripping penalty. Veteran David Longstaff - one of the few remaining players in British hockey not to be required to wear a visor because of his age - was the provider for Owen Fussey to score an untidy goal for the Surrey outfit on 16mins 32secs.

Lightning kept up the pressure in the second period with both Adam Carr and Cownie, set up by Hook, both having good chances in the opening minutes.

However the hosts had nothing to show for their efforts at the second break with score still 2-1 in their favour.

That changed after Longstaff was penalised for interference with Emersic starting the move which saw Leigh Jamieson fired towards goal with Milan Kostourek redirecting the puck past Rockman on 48mins 29secs.

The LBJ line then finished off Flames with all three involved in Lightning’s fourth goal - a scrambled one from Hook.

The previous evening’s win against Wightlink was a stroll in the park for Lightning who could have won by a bigger margin if they hadn’t been conserving they energy for Sunday’s encounter.

They took the lead after just 1min 50secs when Jamieson supplied Carr who had plenty of time to pick his spot.

Curilla was unlucky to hit the metalwork before Hook was provider for Cownie at the left post, making it 2-0 at 8mins 30secs.

Hedley made a good save from Aaron Edwards midway through the session but there was little threat from Raiders who ended the period outshot 10-3. The second session saw the visitors under the cosh by an even greater margin - being outshot 23-1.

Despite that all Lightning could only strike once after Hook danced his way through the Wightlink defence before smashing a top shelf shot past goalie Matt Colclough - Cownie the provider.

Having called no penalties at all referee Blaine Evans had everyone - including Lightning players - scratching their heads when he awarded them a penalty shot in the 33rd minute after he spotted Raiders’ Richard Nembhard throwing his stick at the puck. It didn’t seem to be a scoring chance so justice was probably served when Jamieson missed out on the spot shot.

It proved to be the only penalty of the game with the home team finishing off any hopes Raiders had with a fourth goal on 41mins 59secs. Evans got that decision wrong as well - crediting the goal to Chris Wiggins when the scorer was Carr.

Curilla added the fifth and his first for the club after 51mins 53secs and less than a minute later got the second assist on Ross Bowers’ goal timed at 52mins 30secs to make it 6-0.