Late Finnish for MK Lightning against bottom clubs
Late goals from Finnish import Antti HÃ¶lli ensured MK Lightning picked up maximum points from their clashes with the two bottom teams in the English Premier League at the weekend.
Both Sheffield Steeldogs and Bracknell Bees are still battling to secure the final play-off place. But Lightning did neither side any favours with a 4-2 win over the Yorkshire outfit at MK Arena on Saturday followed by a 5-4 success against the Bees at The Hive on Sunday.
However Lightning had to survive a second period scare at Bracknell when the home side scored four middle period goals to lead 4-1 at the second break before MK recovered to finally go ahead again with 5mins 18secs remaining.
In both encounters it was Hölli who sealed the points - scoring twice late on against Steeldogs and then registering the decisive goal against Bees.
There was a special ceremony before Saturday's game to congratulate captain Adam Carr on reaching a landmark 600 games for the club.
Lightning got a breakthrough when Milan Baranyk and James Neil had a hand in Carr's opener on 12mins 17secs - the only score of the first session.
Within 1min 36secs of the restart James Griffin, assisted by Baranyk, doubled Lightning's tally, only for Steeldogs to hit back almost immediately through Stan Lascek, aided by Arnoldas Bosas at 22mins 56secs.
The hosts conceded a second goal to Lascek after 27mins 16secs, the scorer having broke away with Bosas and instead of passing he chose to shoot the puck past goalie Przemy Odrobny with the period ending all square at two each.
Griffin's involvement in the encounter was ended when he was dismissed on a five minute plus game penalty for a check to the head of Tom Relf in the 45th minute.
Having successfully seen off the extended short handed spell Lightning edged in front when Blaz Emersic supplied Hölli to beat Hadfield on 53mins 17secs.
Steeldogs called a timeout with 2mins 40secs remaining and withdrew Hadfield for the extra skater with 90secs left on the clock.
But the move backfired as Hölli shot home for his second goal at 59mins 23secs to wrap up the win - the sixth in six meetings this season.
On Sunday Lightning made it five wins from five against Bees with the 5-4 win at The Hive.
Michael Farn who was absent on Saturday was again missing from the line-up due to injury, together with sixth import Baranyk.
Carr and man of the match Craig Scott both had early attempts on goal before an eighth minute penalty on Danny Ingoldsby for charging gave the travellers a powerplay from which Jordan Cownie opened MK's account on 8mins 41secs - helped by Hölli and Frankie Bakrlik.
It did not, however, signal the start of Lightning taking control and they had to be content with the single goal lead at the first interval.
Within 39 seconds of the restart Luka Basic set up Josh Smith to stun Lightning with an equaliser for Bracknell.
Only 26 seconds then elapsed before Odrobny was caught out again by a Shaun Thompson shot, assisted by Harvey Stead and Josh Tetlow.
When Cownie was handed two minute penalty for interference by referee Roman Szucs Bees were able to capitalise to make it 3-1 through Alex Barker.
Things became worse for Lightning less than 90 seconds later when Martin Pavlicek scored the home side's fourth goal on 29mins 26secs.
Bees' Jack Hayes was despatched to the sin bin on a two plus 10 minute penalty for checking to the head of Glenn Billing - the player having to leave the play for dressing room treatment.
The resulting powerplay saw Lightning reduce the deficit - Bakrlik the provider for Lewis Hook to revive the team's hopes at 33mins 15secs.
That was all the visitors could manage in the middle stanza but they got off on the good foot in the third period with Hook on target again within 19 seconds of the drop of the puck - Bakrlik and Cownie assisting.
The equaliser came as Carr was the supplier for Tom Carlon to register after 50mins 25secs.
Lightning then edged in front for the second time at a crucial time as Hook and Cownie were involved in the build up Hölli to beat netminder Alex Mettam after 54mins 42secs.
Bees called a timeout with 1min 32secs remaining and withdrew Mettam to bring on an extra skater.
Neither that or the six on four advantage they gained after Mikolaj Lopuski was assessed a two minute penalty for cross checking enabled Bees to draw level again.