Lightning miss out on a perfect weekend with shoot-out defeat
Milton Keynes Lightning bagged another three points out of a possible four as their bid to move up the table suffered a slight setback on Sunday.
After cutting down Sheffield Steeldogs in a 4-3 victory at Planet Ice on Saturday they were beaten 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out against the same opposition at IceSheffield on Sunday. A few weeks ago dropping a single point in a weekend would have been regarded with delight but since Lightning’s season was turned around by the arrival of sharp-shooter Liam Stewart and later, Robin Kovar, losing a point might be seen as a disappointment.
Steeldogs' reportedly came to Milton Keynes with the avowed intention of closing down Stewart - the tactic worked well for all of 2mins 4secs. To a player of Stewart's calibre the bid to stop him would have proved to a challenge to rise to. And it took him a mere couple of minutes to fire a cheeky back stick shot past Dimitri Zimozdra.
Then to emphasise a point Stewart then scored the game winning goal to make it 4-3 seconds after Sheffield had tied the game up with just over six minutes remaining.
Following 'Disco' Stewart's opener the hosts stamped their mark on the game after Zimozdra was penalised for interference in the 16th minute. It took Tom Carlon just 42 seconds to score on 16mins 59secs.
However Steeldogs were able claw one back before the first interval when they made the most of an interference call on Tomas Kana. With 1min 2secs remaining Vladimir Luka beat goalie Jordan Lawday for a powerplay goal.
It was the visitors who bagged the only goal of the second session after Grant McPherson was sin binned in the 25th minute for clipping. This time it was Steeldogs' second import Jan Danecek who was on the mark at 27mins 25secs for the equaliser.
The score changed within the first three minutes of the final session when Carlon registered his second of the night at 42mins 51secs.
But Steeldogs seized their chance when Lightning had two players in the penalty box - Tanaka for tripping following Jordan Stokes for roughing. With a two man advantage Luka hit his second goal at 53mins 21secs.
The response from MK was fast when Stewart sealed the win only 26 seconds later.
On Sunday Lightning fell behind to a Ryan Johnson opener for Steeldogs after 7mins 41secs and then conceded again to a Danecek goal after 8mins 58secs.
Lightning were unable to find a way back into the game when Lewis Bell was called for holding in the 14th minute, but after the penalty expired Lewis Christie set up Tanaka to get the visitors off the mark on 16mins 1sec.
The two teams went into the break all thanks to Saturday’s man of the match, Carlon, who finished off from McPherson’s set up at 18mins 59secs.
There were no goals during the second period, despite both outfits being a man short at various stages – Steeldogs were caught with too many men on the ice in the 32nd minute after MK’s Leigh Jamieson had been penalised for tripping in the 27th minute.
Lightning edged in front 35 seconds into the third session with a Russ Cowley assisted goal from Tomas Kana, only for the hosts to level just over two minutes later at 42mins 43secs – Jack Brammer netting.
Once more it was the travelling side that went in front with Kana again on the mark at 51mins 23secs while Steeldogs’ Greg Wood was in the cooler for tripping – the Czech forward’s goal timed at 51mins 23secs.
But back came Steeldogs for an equaliser 3mins 12secs from the end of regulation time – an unassisted strike by Luka sending the game into five minutes of overtime which failed to settle the issue. Therefore it was down to penalties with Kana the only scorer for Lightning while James Spurr and Luka both netted for the home outfit to take two points and the visitors one point.
The results left Lightning maintaining sixth spot in the National Ice Hockey League – level on points with Hull Pirates and four points behind fourth placed Peterborough Phantoms.
> Lightning’s Sam Russell scored the opening goal in Great Britain Under 20’s 5-2 victory over Serbia to seal silver medal in the World Championship Division II Group A in Vilnius. The win, coupled with Japan U20s 5-2 success over Lithuania U20s, meant GB claimed second place.