MK Lightning fans said an emotional farewell to one of the club’s founders, Nick Poole, at the weekend.
Former head coach – latterly general manager – Poole who has stepped down after nearly 15 years with the club was joined by players past and present in an on ice ceremony before the face-off against Hull Pirates at MK Arena. Ex-players included the original captain, Dwayne ‘Dog’ Newman, Dean Campbell and Phil Wooderson as well Grant McPherson who is still associated with the team after retiring in the summer.
At the conclusion of the tributes Calgary-born Poole’s number 91 shirt was officially retired and lifted to hang on the rafters over the ice – a fitting tribute to the popular legend who is also giving up his role coaching junior members of MK Storm.
Fittingly Lightning then went on to ensure a celebratory atmosphere on the ice with a 6-3 victory over Hull Pirates – but it was not without drama as they came back from being 3-1 behind before scoring five unanswered goals.
There was no such problem the next day when Lightning led from as early as the third minute at Sheffield Steeldogs and ran out 5-2 victors.
The four points kept up the pressure on English Premier League leaders Telford Tigers who have been rescued by a consortium of businessmen following financial problems which led to the threat of liquidation.
MK are six points behind Telford with Hull five points adrift in third spot.
Lightning ran out winners against Hull thanks to four goals in the final 12 minutes.
A four minute penalty on Bobby Chamberlain gave Hull a powerplay from which they scored. Goalie Przemy Odrobny was caught out of position behind the Lightning goal when his pass found its way to Dominic Osman who was able to fire in unassisted on 8mins 53secs.
Lightning levelled on 13mins 45secs when Lewis Hook, going up the right, fed Antti Hölli in front of goal to register his first goal for the team.
Hull edged in front on 26mins 40secs when Josh Gent beat Odrobny and just over a minute later Nathan Salem increased the gap.
Lightning survived a cross checking call on Sam Jones before Salem was thrown out of the game on a five minutes plus game penalty for hooking which drew blood.
There was renewed hope for Pete Russell’s men thanks to Milan Baranyk’s strike on 38mins 56secs.
The third session saw Lightning piling on the pressure and the breakthrough came when Baranyk and Leigh Jamieson had a hand in captain Adam Carr’s equaliser after 51mins 8secs
Bakrlik made it 4-3 to Lightning after 52mins 46secs while they were on the powerplay with Jason Hewitt in the sin bin for slashing.
Chamberlain stretched the lead to 5-3 after 56 mins 41secs and that prompted a Hull timeout ahead of a major bust up resulting in six players receiving penalties – three from each side.
Hölli ended the game in the penalty box on a hooking penalty with 75 seconds to go – leading to Hull withdrawing goalie Jordan Marr but it was Lightning who capitalised, short-handed through Blaz Emersic to make it 6-3 on 59mins 42secs.
The following day at Sheffield two Baranyk third period goals ensured MK Lightning of a 5-2 victory against Steeldogs.
Lightning were without Jamieson who has just become a father and was detained on domestic duties, as well as James Griffin.
Pete Russell’s charges got off to a great start thanks to a Blaz Emersic goal after 3min 28secs.
Jordan Cownie and Hölli set up Chamberlain to extend the tally on 13mins 47secs.
The hosts’ Macauley Heywood’s involvement in the game ended after 15mins 44secs when he received a five minutes plus game penalty for cross-checking Sam Jones.
At the start of the second session they added to the total when Baranyk and Ed Knaggs were the providers for Carr to fire into the top corner of the net on 22mins 22secs.
Emersic was in the sin bin for high sticks when Steeldogs registered on the powerplay after 25mins 17secs with an Arnoldas Bosas strike.
Going into the third period it didn’t take the visitors long to extend their lead with Baranyk bagging the first of his pair of goals at 42mins 21secs from Craig Scott’s assist.
Steeldogs scored their second goal through Ashley Calvert make it 4-2 on 46mins 16secs.
The hosts’ Lewis Bell took an unsportsmanlike penalty which gave Lightning a powerplay in the 49th minute and Baranyk made it 5-2 at 50mins 12secs with Scott and Emersic taking the assists.