Understrength Lightning bounce back to beat Bison

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ADAM Brittle snatched victory for MK Lightning in dramatic style with a penalty shot winner against Basingstoke Bison on Sunday to banish the disappointment of the previous day’s 5-0 defeat to the same opposition to the history books.

In one of their worst ever performances, an understrength Lightning were never really in with a chance following Joe Greener’s opener at Basingstoke on 42 seconds.

So the omens were not good for the return game at Planet Ice 24 hours – and things looked ominous with Bison making the brighter start and taking the lead after 10mins 49secs with Joe Miller sending Greener away on the left to beat goalie Alex Mettam. But as the period went, on Lightning fought their way back – albeit without managing to equalise.

Lightning had to make changes to their lines with the absence of Adam Calder, at the University of Dakota to be inducted in the hall of fame at his old university, and the injured Chris Wiggins who dressed but didn’t ice on Saturday.

Despite only undergoing knee surgery the previous Wednesday, Ross Bowers returned to the side – even though he should have been ruled out for six to eight weeks. Blaz Emersic and Adam Carr doubled shifted, with Nick Chinn moving from the third line to the second.

Lightning looked unsettled by the changes and so it was little surprise that Bison’s strong, more settled lines, had the better of the early exchanges. Stevie Lyle, probably the best goalie Britain has ever produced, looked a classy act, easily dealing with everything shot at him.

But he could do nothing when Emersic set up Lukas Zatopek for a blast from just inside the blue line only 38 seconds after the start of the second period to make it 1-1.

And as the period wore on, Lightning looked increasingly lively with Ross Green, Lewis Christie and Leigh Jamieson all testing Lyle without success.

It was an identical story in a third period which Lightning dominated for periods. Despite that there were no further goals and so overtime was called for. That also failed to separate the two teams – resulting in the need for a penalty shoot out, much to the dread of home fans.

But after Emersic and Bison’s Greg Chambers had their shots saved and Carr and Joe Miller shot wide, up stepped Brittle to send Lyle the wrong way, creating space to slot the puck in. Greg Owen then shot high over the goal to give Lightning the win.

On Saturday, following Greener’s opener, Bison were two goals to the good on 6mins 34secs with Joe Rand getting the second from Chambers.

Outshot by the Hampshire side in the first session, Lightning then slipped 4-0 behind with Greener’s second on 24mins 25secs and Rand completing his brace at 28mins 39secs.

There was no way back from that for the visitors and they could not capitalise on the powerplay when former Lightning star Owen was penalised for a high stick in the final minute of the period.

Just to add salt to the wound, it was Owen who got Bison’s fifth goal on 45mins 25secs. Even though Nick Poole’s men outshot Bison 18-9 in the final session, it was too little too late as they lost for the second time this season.

The weekend’s defeat and victory sees Lightning sit sixth in the English Premier Legaue table, while Basingstoke remain top.