A super upstairs penalty shot from Denny Kearney steered Milton Keynes Lightning to a hard won 6-5 over Guildford Flames at MK Arena on Saturday.
Flames failed to score on any of their three penalty shots which followed a goal-less five minutes of overtime with the scores tied at five apiece. With Lightning taking the second shot in the shoot-out that meant the hosts only had to take two – Francis Verreault-Paul’s being blocked – to claim victory.
However Lightning could not make it maximum points over the weekend when they went down 9-4 at Dundee Stars on Sunday.
Saturday’s encounter between the two sides who both joined the Elite League this season was in many ways – personnel apart – very much like the battles of old in the English Premier League.
Lightning took an early two goal lead, only for the Surrey visitors to draw level and then establish a 4-3 lead by the first break. After a scoreless middle session Lewis Hook levelled before Kearney gave MK the lead, only for Ian Watters to save the day in regulation time for Flames. Despite the win Lightning are now officially out of contention for a play-off spot.
The game was 2mins 59secs old when Kevin King fired a first time shot past netminder, Chris Carrozzi.
Verreault-Paul made it 2-0 from close range on 7mins 25secs but it was not long before Flames reduced the deficit on the powerplay –goalie Henry Pacl was caught out by Calle Ackered’s shot from the blue line on 8mins 5secs.
By 9mins 28secs it was level pegging as Guildford registered on the powerplay through a goal by Kruise Reddick.
Flames’ Ben Campbell was penalised for caught slashing but that did not stop them scoring as Reddick dispossessed Carl Hudson and then raced away to beat Pacl on 15mins 56secs.
After Watters edged the visitors in front Pacl was replaced by Miika Wiikman.
But Pacl was called back into action early in the second period when Wiikman was forced to withdraw, temporarily, after breaking a skate blade. During the Finn’s absence Pacl kept Lightning in the game with fine saves from Mikael Lidhammar, Geoff Walker and Brett Ferguson.
Back in between the pipes Wiikman denied Ben Davies ahead of the action switching to the other end of the ice as Tommy Mele was provider for King who shot wide of target.
Within the first 1min 27secs of the start of the third session when Hook’s sheer determination saw him battle his way through to make it 4-4 from Guillaume Doucet and Verrault-Paul’s supply.
Peter Russell’s men then edged in front as Kearney took King’s pass to beat Carrozzi at 49mins 29secs.
After calling a time out with 2mins 23secs to go Flames withdrew Carrozzi for the extra skater – the move paid off with an unassisted Watters goal on 58mins 6secs to send the encounter into the extra period and ultimately penalty shots.
Two goals in less than 30 seconds gave Smith Milton Keynes Lightning a great start after the long journey to Dundee Stars on Sunday.
But after Stars hit back with six goals in just under 15 minutes in the second period the game slipped away from the visitors as they eventually went down 9-4.
Lightning opened their account on 5mins 36secs when Mele registered from Kearney’s assist into an open goal.
Stars had no time to recover before the visitors bagged their second goal – this time the Mele set up King for a backhanded shot past netminder Travis Fullerton at 5mins 51secs.
Lightning maintained the lead until the first break but as play restarted Lukas Lundvald cut the gap just 24 seconds in. A little more than three minutes later Stars were level when Marc-Olivier Mimar scored on 23mins 41secs.
The home side then made the most of a high stick penalty on Hudson as they went in front after 27mins 25secs through Malcolm Gould.
There was a quick response from Lightning as Doucet scored at 28mins 23secs for the equaliser. However Pacl was again picking the puck out of the net on 30mins 22secs when Mimar collected his second goal.
Two more goals from Stars in the period – Brian Hart and Riley Stadel scoring after 32mins 52secs and 34mins 12secs on powerplays gave them a 6-3 advantage at the next intermission.
But Lightning were not finished and Kearney gave them a glimmer of hope with a scrappy goal 1min 31secs into the third session, only for Lundvald reply swiftly at 42mins 35secs.
After Johan Andersson struck on 44mins 9secs for Stars Pacl was replaced by goalie Jordan Hedley and his goal remained intact until 24 seconds from the buzzer when Levesque completed Stars’ tally to make it 9-4 after a great pass from former Lightning player Jordan Cownie.