Lightning win on their return to competitive ice hockey
Lightning are back on the ice for the first time since 2020
After 16 months off the ice due to Covid-19 restrictions Milton Keynes Lightning were back in competitive action for the first time at the weekend as they defeated Raiders 4-3 in overtime before going down 4-1 at Peterborough Phantoms – both encounters in the NIHL Cup.
Having defeated Phantoms twice in pre-season challenge games the previous weekend Lightning had hoped to keep their unbeaten start to the campaign going on Sunday. However, with the continued absence of suspended Liam Stewart and a number of other players it was always going to be a tough ask.
On Saturday Lightning battled back from going two goals behind to tie the game at 3-3 with 2mins 11secs of regulation time remaining. That prompted overtime in which Sean Norris sealed the point with a super strike from the left 1min 19secs into the extra period.
MK made a slow start and were caught out when Dan Scott sent Erik Piatak away to beat netminder Brandon Stones after 13mins 39secs.
Within 13 seconds of the start of the middle period Raiders doubled their advantage as the London based outfit registered on their first attack of the session – this time Scott supplied captain Aaron Connolly to fire in from close range.
Lightning eventually hit back when Leigh Jamieson blasted towards goal from the left for the impressive Sam Talbot, crashing to the net, to put the puck away. However other than that Raiders were still looking comfortable when the second break came.
It was not until the third period that MK really started to exert any pressure and finally they made it pay when Talbot was again on the mark – his former Basingstoke Bison team mate Norris being the provider.
At this stage Lightning looked the more likely to snatch victory but the visitors were not finished yet and they edged ahead again through Jake Sylvester at 55mins 49secs – only for Talbot to set up Bobby Chamberlain to shoot over goalie Ethan James’ shoulder for another leveller exactly two minutes later.
Once more Talbot had the assist when Norris scored the extra period winner for the hosts.
At Peterborough the next day MK welcomed back Adam Laishram but were still under strength and soon found they were behind, conceding a delayed penalty goal to Ales Padelek on 2mins 45secs after captain Russ Cowley was called for tripping.
Before the conclusion of the first period Phantoms made it 2-0 thanks a Luc Johnson assisted goal from Duncan Speirs. That scoreline became 3-0 when – in a repeat of the previous evening – MK conceded within a minute of the restart. This time Padelek was on target within 36 seconds supplied by former Milton Keynes player, Glenn Billing.
The deficit became a mountain to climb just over two minutes later thanks to a fourth Phantoms goal – Ross Clarke setting Nathan Long up to score at 22mins 42secs.
Lightning eventually ensured they would not go home shut-out thanks to a bench minor penalty on Phantoms for too many men. On the resulting powerplay Jamieson made the pass for Chamberlain to defeat goalie Jordan Marr in 55mins 6secs to make it 4-1.