Lightning stumble again with back-to-back defeats
Milton Keynes Lightning gave a debut to new signing Taylor Dickin at the weekend but his presence was not enough to stop his new team from suffering two defeats.
Dual Canadian-UK national Dickin who formerly played in the Elite League for Manchester Storm and Edinburgh Capitals arrived in the country hours before Saturday’s face off at Planet Ice against National Ice Hockey League leaders Telford Tigers. He thus hadn’t trained with the team and it took him a couple of periods to find his rhythm.
Dickin was brought until the end of the season as cover for Czech forward Robin Kovar who sustained ankle injury the previous weekend. Defenceman James Griffin was also absent from both weekend games following a leg injury incurred six days previously while Lewis Christie was absent for personal reasons at the birth of his second daughter.
On Saturday Tigers’ experience eventually saw them home in a 5-2 defeat for Lightning while on Sunday MK – again missing personnel - were just edged out 4-3 at Hull Pirates.
After matching, if not dominating, Tigers for two periods Lightning eventually succumbed to the Shropshire visitors’ better organised powerplay units. The turning point was probably Lightning’s inability to capitalise on a five on three penalty when Tigers’ captain Jason Silverthorn followed team mate Dominik Florian to the sin bin in the 33rd minute for a face off violation – the Czech going for cross checking.
When Cale Tanaka was sin binned for two minutes for slashing in the final minute of the middle session Tigers capitalised within 46 seconds of the restart as Silverthorn beat goalie Dean Skinns.
That gave Tigers the lead for the first time after the two sides had finished the middle session all square at one apiece. From then on the visitors had the upper hand and when they had a four on three powerplay Brandon Whistle blasted home from the blue line at 45mins 42secs.
Less than a minute later Tigers’ leading scoring Scott McKenzie made it 4-1 before Whistle’s cross net pass found Andy McKinney to score his team’s fifth goal at 55mins 58secs.
MK finally made the most of a powerplay after Ross Kennedy was sin binned for hooking on 56mins 30secs. Within 18 seconds Tomas Kana pounced after goalie Bradley Day was able to block not hold a Liam Stewart shot from the blue line to make it 5-2.
It was a disappointing end to an encounter in which Lightning took the lead after Tom Carlon broke up the left an d crossed for Grant McPherson to turn in the puck on 9mins 3secs. A tripping penalty on McPherson in the 13th minute allowed Tigers to level the tallies as Florian’s shot found its way through the screen in front of Skinns at 14mins 25secs.
A late goal from former Elite League player Matt Bissonnette wrecked Lightning’s hopes of picking up at least a point when they went down 4-3 at Hull Pirates on Sunday.
They had fought their way back into the game to equalise through an unassisted Cale Tanaka goal on 49mins 21secs before Bissonnette edged the game for Pirates at 51mins 40secs.
Lightning took the lead through Tanaka after 5mins 11secs and despite a lot of pressure in the final five minutes of the period MK kept the lead going into the first break.
But 30 seconds into the middle session former MK man David Norris beat netminder Jordan Lawday unassisted. Lightning’s hard work paid dividends on 26mins 51secs when Dickin went close before Liam Stewart tapped the puck in to make it 2-1.
Hull incurred the first penalty of the night as Lee Bonner was called for hooking. But despite that Norris stole the puck and beat Lawday one on one at 30mins 36secs.
The visitors’ rhythm was then disrupted slightly by the temporary absence of Kana who lost the blade of one of his skates – he was to return to action only to have repeats of the problem later in the game.
After Ross Green was sin binned for interference in the 35th minute Pirates took the powerplay opportunity to level when Kevin Phillips finished off on 37mins 17secs.
MK equalised through man of the match Tanaka in the 49th minute only for dual Canadian-UK national Bissonette to put Pirates back in front a couple of minutes later with a lead the hosts were not to relinquish.