Tigers left stunned as Lightning cause an upset
Lightning end their winless spell with a win over the league leaders
League leaders Telford Tigers were left stunned as Milton Keynes Lightning claimed a second consecutive victory at Telford on Sunday – running out 4-1 winners in a game which saw both coaches and six players ejected.
Lewis Clifford and Tom Watkins were both thrown out for allegedly failing to control their teams during a mid-game bench clearance in which referees Chris Wells and Ion Hands appeared to lose their grasp on the players.
The previous evening Lightning suffered the disappointment of a 4-3 overtime loss at Hull Pirates.
On Sunday the result of the bench clearance saw Tigers’ Andy McKinney receive a match penalty for fighting while Dan Rose and Tom McKinnon picked up game misconducts for fighting. Lightning’s Tom Carlon was given game for leaving the players bench with Leigh Jamieson handed a game misconduct for fighting and Grant McPherson match for fighting.
The incidents occurred when Lightning had just taken a 3-1 lead after coming from 1-0 down - Tigers captain Jason Silverthorn scoring the opener at 3mins 44secs.
Lightning levelled things up on 6mins 42secs when Cale Tanaka and Tomas Kana were involved in the set up for Russ Cowley to score in a game which was physical from almost the start.
MK went in front as Rio Grinell-Parke supplied Liam Stewart to make it 2-1 at 15mins 35secs.
The start of the second session saw the game becoming increasingly niggly with some big hits dished out by both outfits and when Dan Mitchell was handed a two minute penalty for slashing in the 28th minute the visitors made the most of it as Tanaka registered from Cowley and Harry Ferguson to extend the lead to 3-1.
That raised the temperature further and within a couple of minutes things boiled over, culminating in a bench clearance with Hallden Barnes-Garner and Telford’s Mitchell receiving four minute calls in addition to the game and match penalties for six players.
MK were determined to defend their lead under pressure from Telford as the third period got under way and they effectively ended the hosts’ hopes when the Kana-Tanaka-Cowley contribution struck again on 46mins 16secs – the strike coming from the Czech forward to make it 4-1 to follow December’s 6-3 success at the Shropshire rink.
At Hull short-benched Lightning battled hard but eventually succumbed to a last gasp overtime winner.
Stewart with a slight hamstring problem was among the non-starters as well as Brandon Stones, Robin Kovar, James Griffin and Carlon. That left MK with barely three lines of forwards for a game in which Dean Skinns was starting netminder.
The hosts bagged their first goal as Matty Davies finished off at 5mins 8secs.
Despite further chances that there were no other goals before the break after a period in which Skinns was by far the busier netminder – turning away 17 or 18 shots on him with Pirates’ goalie Ashley Smith only having to deal with six attempts.
There second session began badly for Lightning when Skinns’ attempt to thwart his opponent failed and player coach Jason Hewitt was able to put the puck into an empty net after only 22 seconds. Lightning responded swiftly as Lewis Christie supplied Tomas Kana to make it 2-1 at 22mins 56secs.
MK capitalised to level the tallies on the powerplay at 30mins 12secs when Jamieson was the supplier for captain Cowley.
There was soon another powerplay for Lightning after Ross Green clashed with Haywood receiving an extra two minutes for roughing and fighting. It was the hosts who were to find the net next when Hewitt was provider for defenceman Kevin Phillips to fire past Skinns on 46mins 26secs.
Lightning saw off penalties on Kana and Harry Ferguson before withdrawing Skinns for the extra skater as the final minute of regulation time began and calling a timeout after James Archer was sin binned for hooking. It took just eight seconds for MK to equalise once more with a six on four skater advantage – Cale Tanaka supplying Ferguson on 59 mins 18secs.
Sam Towner eventually sealed maximum points for Pirates with 43 seconds of the extra session remaining. It was a disappointing conclusion to a game where Lightning refused to give in.