Two Leeds Knights goals in 90 seconds turned the tide of a National League Autumn Cup game which Milton Keynes Lightning were in with a chance of winning at Planet Ice on Saturday, the Yorkshire side winning 6-3.
On Sunday, Lightning had a miserable trip to Sheffield Steeldogs, losing 8-1 in a Cup game in which one of the few bright spots was the season debut of Liam Stewart following suspension. Stewart got the assist on Lightning’s only goal by Bobby Chamberlain.
Against Leeds, the encounter was evenly poised at two goals apiece with less than nine minutes remaining. However, a penalty on Hallden Barnes-Garner for instigation of a fight gave the visitors a powerplay from which they edged in front through Jordan Griffin on 51mins 19secs.
Cole Shudra registered a fourth for Knights at 52mins 49secs. The same player gave his team a 5-2 advantage on the powerplay at 56mins 32secs after James Griffin was sin binned for cross-checking.
Back at full strength Lightning narrowed the gap almost immediately thanks to a Sean Norris assisted strike from Adam Laishram at 56mins 47secs before Brandon Whistle blasted home with 2mins 2secs to the buzzer to make it 6-3.
Lightning started the game brightly and Zaine McKenzie had the assist on Bobby Chamberlain’s opener after 2mins 39secs. The home side were the better outfit in the opening stages although they were unable to make anything of a couple of man advantages when Kieran Brown was penalised for a high stick and then picked up an extra two minutes for slashing when he and MK’s Callum Field were called for roughing.
The hosts increased their lead after 26mins 9secs when some determined offence saw Sam Talbot get the final touch after Knights’ goalie Sam Gospel failed to deal with a Laishram effort.
Knights clawed back a goal as Whistle fired over Stones’ shoulder on 27mins 13secs.
Five minutes later it was all square when Leeds took full advantage of Field’s slashing penalty to score through Brown at 32mins 59secs – the score 2-2 at the second interval.
In the end, it was Barnes-Garner’s fight with Zajac that proved the key to Leeds taking the points as Griffin put the away team in front and on their way to a 6-3 victory.
Lightning travelled to Sheffield Steeldogs for their final away National League Autumn Cup game on Sunday where Stewart’s appearance was countered by the absence of captain Russ Cowley as well as injured defenceman Ross Green.
Sheffield snapped up Hull Pirates coach Jason Hewitt when the Humberside outfit decided they would not be competing this year. And it has proved to be a wise move – Hewitt bagged a hat-trick including Steeldogs’ first goals while James Spurr recorded a brace.
The game began badly for Lightning with goalie Brandon Stones having to pick the puck out of the net after just 26 seconds – Tim Smith the provider for Hewitt. When Sam Talbot was called for slashing in the sixth minute Steeldogs made the most of the opportunity on the powerplay, this time Hewitt scoring at 8mins 40secs.
Lightning outshot the home team 12-7 in the first session but had nothing to show for it. Never the less they were still in with a chance – the score 2-0 until midway through the night. By then Sheffield had stretched the lead to four goals – Matt Bissonnette netting on 28mins 26secs and Spurr getting his first less than two minutes later at 30mins 7secs.
Stewart came up with the pass to set up Chamberlain to finally find a way past netminder Dmitri Zimozdra after 32mins 53secs but by the second intermission Sheffield had restored the four goal advantage with Hewitt on the mark one second from the break.
Lightning held out until 48mins 33secs before Lee Haywood added to their total while Spurr beat former Steeldog Stones for a second time at 52mins 53secs and Lee Bonner completed the scoring to make it 8-1 at 57mins 1secs.
It was not a good night for Lightning and probably of concern for coach Lewis Clifford was the fact that seven of Steeldogs’ eight goals were scored even-handed.