Overtime strike ends Lightning’s streak

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Milton Keynes Lightning came within 35 seconds of achieving their fourth win in a row when they were defeated 4-3 in overtime at Guildford Flames.

A goal from veteran British forward David Longstaff eventually sunk the visitors but they picked up a valuable point away from home to maintain seventh spot in the league table.

Twenty four hours earlier Lightning ended Manchester Phoenix’s hopes in a similar manner - except the opposition went home empty handed thanks to a Milan Kostourek strike 24 seconds from the end of regulation time to ensure a 5-4 victory.

The city side were again missing defencemen Michael Farn, John Connolly and Ross Green on Saturday so Leigh Jamieson again took up a blue line role. Farn returned on Sunday but Lewis Christie was unable to play due to an injury sustained the previous night - Farn making his return to the side.

On Sunday Lightning were trailing for almost half the game despite taking the lead with a Kostourek assisted goal from Blaz Emersic after 16mins 40secs.

Flames struck within 33 seconds of the start of the middle period when Andy McKinney was provider for Jozef Kohut to beat goalie Stephen Wall.

The home side edged in front on 30mins 40secs as Vladimir Kutny set up Marcus Kristofferson - an advantage they held until the second buzzer.

When Guildford added a third shorthanded goal after 43mins 44secs through McKinney, assisted by Kutny, things started to look bleak for the travellers.

But never say die Lightning fought back when Emersic made the pass for Lewis Hook to fire in after 52mins 59secs before Ben Russell was supplier for Kostourek to square the game with 3mins 17secs of normal time remaining.

The encounter looked to be heading for a penalty shoot-out when Longstaff eventually beat Wall at 64mins 25secs to claim a win for the Surrey outfit.

Saturday’s clash was just as close with Lightning dominating much of the game apart from the first few minutes. It was a thriller before a crowd of nearly 2,000 which probably had the many newcomers taking advantage of a ticket promotion hooked on the game.

Phoenix stunned the home side with two goals inside the first three minutes with James Archer blasting home a first time shot at 1min 15secs and Frantisek Bakrlik supplying Shaun Thompson for the second from distance after 2mins 20secs.

Phoenix then ran into penalty trouble when Robin Kovar was called for tripping after 4mins 28secs - Lightning took exactly 11 seconds to make Flames pay. Jordan Cownie found Emersic to reduce the deficit.

A classy finish by Cownie saw him pick his spot at mid height to the right of goalie Declan Ryan after 13mins 51secs - giving a 2-2 score at the first break.

Manchester were afforded a powerplay in the 35th minute when Curtis Huppe and Chris Wiggins got in each other’s way as the latter attempted to leave the ice - resulting in a too many men penalty but the home side survived the short-handed spell.

They could do nothing though when Adam Walker was provider for Tony Hand to score what was a scrambled goal on 37mins 18secs.

However the second session ended all square after Joe Graham was sin binned for tripping Hook - Lighting capitalising as Wall sent Leigh Jamieson away up the left. With Kostourek going with him as decoy, Jamieson shot through the netminder’s legs 19 seconds before the break.

With both sides looking for the winner the action was again end to end in the third period - Huppe twice shot off target while Kostourek also went wide while on a breakaway.

Wall kept Phoenix at bay with fine stops from Kovar and Bakrlik before thwarting Jacob Heron and blocking a Ben Wood blue line effort.

Eventually Lightning broke through to go ahead as Russell made a long pass forward to Cownie to slot home at 54mins 1 sec.

That seemed to be the winner but Manchester had other ideas and they drew level on 56mins 44secs when Thompson supplied Kovar to score from close range - the referee not awarding the goal until he had consulted the goal judge and his linesmen.

Overtime loomed when Kostourek settled matters when he took Cownie’s pass from the right and somehow squeezed the puck home at the left hand post - much to the relief of the home fans.