MK Lightning staged a dramatic fightback to come from two goals behind to win 3-2 in overtime at Sheffield Steeldogs on Sunday.
With more than half the match played Steeldogs looked set to hold on for victory when Lewis Christie set up Bobby Chamberlain to claw a goal back on 35mins 50secs after Lightning showed an improvement on a first period in which they conceded twice within the first 17 minutes.
It went some way to making up for the disappointment of the New Year’s Day home 3-0 loss to Telford Tigers – the second successive win for the Shropshire outfit against Pete Russell’s men and the second time this season they have shut the side out.
At Sheffield netminder Dalibor Sedlar performed heroics to keep the home side in front by the odd goal at the second break but his resistance was broken for the equaliser on 47mins 45secs – Markku Tahtinen and Jordan Cownie having a hand in Frankie Bakrlik’s leveller.
Lightning started the match minus the previous evening’s man of the match, Martti Jarventie, and forward Grant McPherson who had not iced in the latter part of the Telford encounter following a fight.
That meant Ross Green slotted in at the back while Glenn Billing joined Adam Carr and Jack Watkins on a forward line.
Steeldogs opened the scoring on 8mins 13secs thanks to a goal by Greg Wood.
Lubimor Korhon added to the total on 16mins 41secs when he beat goalie Dean Skinns to put the home outfit two goals to the good at the first break.
Lightning exerted a lot of pressure in the second period – Jack Watkins and Bakrlik having attempts – but they could not beat Sedlar until Christie put Chamberlain away for the late second period goal.
There was a moment of anxiety for Lightning three minutes into the final session when a Tom Squires shot hit the post. At the other end a Chamberlain shot went wide.
A further Sheffield attack saw Stan Lascek’s shot blocked by Christie shortly before Bakrlik’s equaliser which sent the game into overtime decided by a Bakrlik breakaway goal 2mins 17secs into the extra five minutes.
Telford shut out Lightning for the second time in three weeks after the hosts ran out of ideas.
After Tigers scored their second goal late in the middle period there was only going to be one winner - Lightning short-handed with Christie in the sin bin for interference when the visitors opened their account through a Jason Silverthorn deflection at 12mins 24secs.
Lightning began the second session with extra impetus and Lewis Hook set up Chamberlain in opening half minute for an unsuccessful attempt on goal.
Both Bakrlik and Leigh Jamieson tested goalie Sam Gospel who was hardly troubled by their blue line slap shots.
A slightly harsh call on Michael Farn for tripping sparked a fracas in which four players were sin binned for four minutes for fighting – Farn and Grant McPherson for MK and Zajac and Peter Szabo for Telford.
A 36th minute call on Bakrlik for interference on Macauley Heywood – surprisingly not boarding – led to Telford doubling their advantage with the extra man. Phil Hill fed Blahoslav Novak to beat Skinns from close range at 37mins 31secs.
The home team tried in vain to cut the deficit at the start of the third period but all too often they were restricted to long range shots which any goalie of a reasonable standard was always going to stop.
When they did succeed in getting the puck into the Telford defensive zone the visitors frequently intercepted passing attempts, leading to increasing frustration for Lightning.
Early on Hook tried a cross ice pass to Chamberlain but it was cut out before it reached its intended target and when Jordan Cownie set up Bakrlik he shot over the bar.
In the dying minutes Blaz Emersic had two golden chances to register from close range – only to be denied on both occasions by Gospel.
Coach Pete Russell called a timeout with 1min 27secs remaining and immediately withdrew Skinns, replacing him with Hook to partner Markku Tahtinen, Bakrlik and Cownie.
It was to no avail and as Telford forced the play into the home defensive zone Jonathan Weaver had all the time in the world to pick his spot for an empty net goal to make it 3-0 28 seconds from the end.