Lightning sweep aside Peterborough

Lightning vs Phantoms (pics Tony Sargent)
Lightning vs Phantoms (pics Tony Sargent)

MK Lightning completed a clean sweep over arch rivals Peterborough Phantoms with their sixth win in six league clashes – but it was a close run thing.

Pete Russell’s men finally saw off Phantoms in front of a near capacity crowd at MK Arena with a Jordan Cownie powerplay goal 1min 25secs into overtime.

It sealed a victory which probably ended any hopes Peterborough had of clinching the English Premier League title.

The encounter was Lightning’s only engagement of the weekend as other teams made up games in hand on them. Despite that the city outfit remain in fourth spot.

Saturday’s win was the first time Lightning had won all series games with Phantoms following the formation of both clubs in 2002. Indeed it was only second time MK had achieved a complete series win against a team finishing the campaign in the top half of the table – the only other occasion being in season 2003-2004 when they whitewashed Wightlink Raiders on their way to winning the league title.

Yet at the end of the second session against Phantoms it looked unlikely that Lightning would be able to turn the game around after the visitors edged in front with 19 seconds of the first session remaining.

The middle period was a tepid affair with neither side really threatening either netminder – even though Lightning outshot the visitors 16-8. It was not until the final quarter of an hour, with coach Russell shaking up the lines, that the intensity of the game increased.

Lightning had the best of the early chances with Luc Johnson sending captain Adam Carr away up the left for a shot which Phantoms netminder Janis Auzins was able to save with ease in the second minute.

Cownie, Johnson and Ross Green then tried their luck without success before Peterborough produced their first effort of any note – Craig Scott firing wide of target with Greg Pick then forcing goalie Jordan Marr into his first save of the night.

When Markku Tahtinen was sin binned for delaying the game in the seventh minute Phantoms had plenty of pressure on the powerplay but were unable to get many shots on goal – Milan Baranyk producing the cream of the chances with a couple of seconds of the man advantage remaining.

As the clock counted down to the first period buzzer it looked as though it was going to end all square.

But Peterborough caught the hosts on the counter attack with a four on two man rush which saw Tom Norton set up Darius Pliskauskas to shoot past goalie Jordan Marr for a 1-0 lead at 19mins 41secs.

Early in the next session Tahtinen tried to set up Chamberlain but his shot was blocked. Phantoms then tried to build on their lead with Lloyd Gibson and Tom Norton testing Marr with shots.

When Chamberlain was penalised for cross checking in the 27th minute Peterborough were prevented from adding to their total. But back at full strength Martins Susters forced Marr to save with his shot. However the period ended with the same score as the first.

The third period began with Lightning having to defend another penalty – Chamberlain sin binned for tripping. Baranyk produced the only effort of note despite a lot of pressure on the home net.

Johnson and Billing’s ice time in the third was reduced as Russell switched line combinations – a move which eventually paid off with the all important equaliser on 47mins 30secs.

Chamberlain got the final touch from Lewis Hook and Leigh Jamieson at 47mins 30secs.

That set things up for a pulsating final ten minutes or so which failed to produce a deciding goal so overtime was required – Phantoms’ being seen off with Cownie’s poke into the net from close range.

Lightning have another Sunday off with just a home clash with Bracknell Bees to occupy them on Saturday at 7pm, followed by a trip to Swindon Wildcats on Wednesday.