Lightning do the double for a four-point weekend
MK Lightning achieved their second shutout in nine days when they completed a superb four point weekend with a 4-0 victory at Hull Pirates on Sunday.
Twenty four hours earlier they brushed aside Sheffield Steeldogs by a 6-1 margin at MK Arena.
For both games Lightning were missing top scorer Frankie Bakrlik as well as Glenn Billing, Luc Johnson and Ed Knaggs who were on duty with Great Britain Under 20s in Hungary. Bakrlik and Bobby Chamberlain were suspended for the Steeldogs clash, Chamberlain returned on Sunday but Bakrlik was absent.
Sunday’s result put clear daylight between second placed Lightning and Hull in third spot in the English Premier League – Pete Russell’s men having a nine point advantage although Pirates have a game in hand.
Telford remain top, eight points ahead of MK, after two weekend victories despite key player departures. Lightning have two games in hand on the leaders.
Although Hull were first with the scoring chances – Nathan Salem putting goalie Przemy Odrobny under pressure early on before Stan Lascek saw his shot caught by the stopper – Lightning then began to test the home defence.
A long Leigh Jamieson blast was blocked by netminder Jordan Marr while Sam Jones fired wide from distance and then Antti Hölli tried a wrap around goal without success. Despite the chances the first period ended all square with neither side able to break through.
Eventually Lightning edged in front on 27mins 19secs when Blaz Emersic was the supplier for man of the match Craig Scott to defeat goalie Jordan Marr.
Less than 90 seconds later Hölli almost made it 2-0 with an effort which hit the post.
MK doubled their tally after Milan Baranyk set up captain Adam Carr after 32mins 34secs and it was Carr who threatened with a bid which went high three minutes later.
The third period was 1min 36secs old when Hull’s task of overhauling MK became even harder – this time it was Sam Jones who was provider for Scott to send the puck past Marr for a 3-0 score.
Even when Odrobny was called for delaying the game in the 48th minute – Tom Carlon sitting the penalty – Pirates could not find a way to goal.
A penalty on Hull was decisive in Lightning scoring for the fourth time -Andrej Themar in the sin bin for roughing when Lewis Hook and Jordan Cownie had a hand in Carlon’s strike at 55mins 18secs.
With Saturday’s missing crew Lightning brought Grant McPherson out of retirement. And he showed little rustiness despite his months out of action.
It was to be a doubly wise move when Jordan Cownie was thrown out of the game on a five minutes plus game penalty for a high stick on Arnoldas Bosas.
The absences meant constant switching of line combinations and defenceman James Griffin played the latter part of the game as a forward.
The game was just 4mins 24secs old when the Hook-Cownie partnership struck. Cownie made the pass from the right and almost intuitively Hook was in the right position in front of goal to send the puck past goalie James Hadfield.
Steeldogs’ Callum Pattison was called for roughing and misconduct on 7mins 56secs - Griffin refusing to be goaded. At exactly the same time Baranyk robbed his marker to double MK's advantage.
It was not long before the hosts added to their tally when Blaz Emersic and Craig Scott assisted on Griffin's blast which went in off Hadfield's pads on 11mins 17secs.
There were momentary celebrations for Steeldogs as Marcus Heywood was the recipient of a lucky bounce in front of goal to cut the deficit on 17mins 46secs.
Just seconds later Cownie was dismissed.
As the second period went on the home side put increasing pressure on Steeldogs. Therefore when the fourth goal came on 33mins 13secs it was no surprise - Carlon supplying Griffin to score from close range.
In the final stanza with Steeldogs were fighting a rear-guard action - their best chance probably coming when Marcus Heywood, on the break, shot high over the bar.
With a 4-1 lead going into the final ten minutes Lightning could afford to take it easy - only they didn't. Hadfield seemed to have a shot-come-cross from Antti Hölli covered but he seemed to drop the shot and Scott swept the puck into the net on 50mins 42secs.
Lightning were not finished though and they rounded off the win as Hook scooped the puck over the stranded Hadfield for goal number six on 57mins 17secs.