Lopuski makes his mark as Lightning's perfect start continues
New Polish import Mikolaj Lopuski ended his MK Lightning points drought at the weekend '“ and he did it in style with three goals and an assist to ensure his team bagged all four points from their encounters with Peterborough Phantoms and Manchester Phoenix.
Lopuski hadn’t registered any goals or assists going into the weekend but he ended that situation with Lightning’s first goal after 11mins 1secs in the 4-1 win over Phantoms at MK Arena on Saturday.
That victory and the 3-1 success the next day at Phoenix’s temporary home at Blackpool, where Lopuski opened the scoring after just 2mins 5secs, ensured Lightning finished the weekend as one of only three teams to have faultless record this season.
Saturday’s win was Lightning’s best home performance of the year so far and they never looked like losing even though through Phantoms got off the mark first through Ales Padelek at 7mins 1secs. Prior to that MK goalie Prezmy Odrobny hadn’t had a single save to make.
For a couple of minutes Peterborough's confidence looked to be boosted but Lightning got back on terms with a superb one on one breakaway top shelf goal from man of the match Lopuski who robbed his Peterborough marker of the puck in centre ice.
As the period went on it was the home side doing all the pressing and it was little surprise when Milan Baranyk finished from a long Leigh Jamieson pass at 18mins 22secs to give the hosts a 2-1 lead at the interval.
Lopuski doubled his goals tally with a blast from the right within 1min 55secs of the start of the middle session - the set up coming from Baranyk.
The home team continued to put Phantoms to the test with Baranyk having an effort saved three minutes later while Lopuski supplied Baranyk who forced a fumbled save from Auzins.
It was only a matter of time before Lightning added to their tally and it came when Jamieson made the pass for Bobby Chamberlain rifle the puck home at the left hand side of goal on 33mins 40secs for a 4-1 lead.
The goal effectively settled the outcome as Peterborough looked a beaten side from then on.
The visitors, to their credit, did not give up in the third period but there was little threat to their play.
With just 1min25secs remaining Peterborough's frustrations boiled over as Bakrlik looked to be clearly goaded near the Phantoms bench. As a result fisticuffs ensued with Bakrlik receiving a total of 16 minutes for roughing, Chamberlain and Phantoms' Will Weldon being handed four minutes for the same offence.
A Lewis Hook double steered Lightning to the win against Phoenix. The only downside was that the win was witnessed by few Lightning fans – the hosts’ management advising them not to travel to Blackpool due to limitations on accommodating away fans because of lack of seating.
That did not stop Lightning from getting off to a brilliant start as was set up by Baranyk to score his third goal of the weekend on 2mins 5secs.
But it was Lightning who held the upper hand at the end of the first session after doubling their advantage 21 seconds before the interval when Frankie Bakrlik supplied Hook to beat Fone for a 2-0 lead.
Whatever was said in the Phoenix dressing room in the break had the desired effect as they cut the deficit within 15 seconds of the restart thanks to a goal by Joni Tuominen.
Odrobny was kept busy over the following few minutes, dealing with attempts by Tuominen among others while Edgars Bebris shot wide.
Bakrlik and Manchester’s Marek Indra were consigned to the sin bin for two minutes each for hooking and diving respectively and 25 seconds later, at 25mins 53secs, Michael Farn was the provider for Hook to take his tally to two and his team’s to three.
It proved to be the final goal of the game – but it was far from the end of the action with Odrobny pulling off two saves from Robin Kovar before the end of the second period.
Phoenix’s second period pressure waned a little early in the third as both Hook and Bakrlik were both thwarted and no more goals ensued.