Thunder edged out by league leaders

Josh Nicklin scoring Thunder's opening goal. '(Pic: Claire Stanton)
Josh Nicklin scoring Thunder's opening goal. '(Pic: Claire Stanton)

Champions elect Chelmsford Chieftans were narrow 4-3 winners as they saw off MK Thunder on Sunday.

It was a family affair for the netminders at the MK Arena, with Thunder’s Damien taking on brother Euan in the opposite net.

Although Thunder lost, Damien King faced 43 shots for the four goals while brother Euan only faced 10 shots for the three goals.

This was the fourth time the two teams have played each other with the previous games being close, Chieftains grabbing a couple of wins by the odd goal. Thunder were looking to snap their recent run of bad form which has seen them consolidate sixth place in the league with little chance to finish higher, but despite playing a tactical game with immense effort, the Milton Keynes side came up just short again losing 3 – 4 to the top of the table side.

Thunder got off to the best possible start as Josh Nicklin fired past Euan King in Chieftains goal in the fourth minute finishing off the pass from Piotr Poziomkowski. The lead didn’t last long however, the impressive Martin Piecha had Chieftains level two minutes later and then set up Ross Brears tip in to give the visitors the lead almost from the restart. After the frantic start, the game settled into a pattern with Chelmsford having most of the possession being closed down quickly by Thunder, who counter attacked when the opportunities arose. Chieftain’s Darren Brown was ejected from the game mid-period for a boarding penalty which left Thunder’s young forward Ryan Coffey needing attention on the ice before being helped to the changing room.

Coffey returned for the second period and it was his delay of game penalty that left Thunder shorthanded andgave the visitors the opportunity to extend their lead to 1 – 3 after 35:19 when James Ayling scored the powerplay goal. The fighting spirit of Thunder showed throughout the game and it was no surprise when Poziomkowski pulled a goal back less than thirty seconds later with an excellent finish to a Jamie Line pass which gave Euan King no chance.

So, 2 – 3 going into the final period with the visitors still dominating possession. Thunder had a powerplay chance in the forty third minute but couldn’t capitalise on the man advantage, in fact they turned the puck over and let Chieftains through for a short handed goal scored by Matthew Turner at 44:50. Thunder pressed hard at every opportunity but it wasn’t until the final minute of the game that Coffey forced home the goal that made it 3 – 4. Thunder immediately called a time out to plan the attack for the final moments, but at the restart, Chieftains got possession and kept the puck till the buzzer to take both points.

Thunder now go on to next weekend when they face Cardiff Devils on Sunday at the MK Arena with just three games to go before the play offs.