A seven game winning run finally ended for Milton Keynes Lightning at Telford Tigers on Sunday – but not without a dramatic marathon penalty shootout in which both sides had more than a dozen attempts on goal.
Tigers eventually won the shoot-out 4-3 and the game 6-5 to take maximum points while Lightning picked up a single point to ensure three points out of four from the weekend.
On Saturday, MK overcame stiff resistance from Leeds Knights to win 4-2 – the game eventually decided by a solo Liam Stewart strike and an empty net goal from Sam Talbot.
At Telford, Tigers were winning 5-2 with less than eight minutes of regulation time left before on an incredible fightback which culminated in Hallden Barnes Garner levelling the scores on a powerplay at 56mins 12secs.
At the half way mark Tigers looked comfortable as they held a 4-1 advantage having taken the lead after 8mins 11secs through Czech import Vladimir Luka. Bobby Chamberlain equalised 26 seconds before the first break but it was only a brief respite as Andy McKinney fired the home side back in front within 1min 30secs of the restart.
A too many men on the ice penalty on MK allowed Luka to fire past goalie Matt Smital for a 3-1 score at 24mins 53secs. Lewis Clifford’s men had hardly any time to recover before Jack Hopkins added to Tigers tally on 26mins 18secs.
A second Lightning goal, this time from Zaine McKenzie after 31mins 8secs brought a swift response from the home side who registered a delayed penalty goal through Nick Oliver at 32mins18secs – the high stick call being on new signing Mikey Power.
That proved to be the final goal until the hosts’ Jake Price was sin binned for slashing at 52mins 21secs.
Within 39 seconds of the start of the penalty, Leigh Jamieson fired past goalie Bradley Day. It gave Lightning hope of a late resurgence and a Sean Norris goal on 54mins 15secs cut the deficit to one goal.
A further penalty – this time on McKinney for interference in the 55th minute –Lightning duly took advantage as Barnes-Garner breached the Tigers goal to make it 5-5 with 3mins 48secs to go.
No further goals in regulation time sent the game into an equally scoreless five minutes of overtime. Thus, penalties were necessary. No one could have forecast how long it would take to separate the two combatants.
The previous evening a moment of Liam Stewart magic finally unlocked a resolute Leeds Knights defence to steer MK to home at Planet Ice. With the sides locked at two apiece a great pass from Sam Talbot sent Stewart away to beat goalie Sam Gospel one on one with a rocket into the roof of the net on 50mins 39secs to make it 3-2.
Until that moment a short-benched Knights looked capable of snatching the win in what was a close fought game with both netminders deservedly taking the man of the awards for the their respective clubs.
With a minute to go Gospel was withdrawn in favour of the extra skater – almost immediately Bobby Chamberlain supplied Talbot to fire home on the empty net 48 seconds from the buzzer for a 4-2 final score.
Chances were fairly even early on in the encounter before the deadlock was finally broken when Stewart supplied Russell Cowley for a shot on the turn to defeat Gospel at 17mins 21secs.
The second period was only 58 seconds old when Cowley was sin binned for four minutes for a high stick offence and that put Knights on the powerplay. They did not waste the chance with Brandon Whistle unleashing a blast that caught out Smital from long range at 23mins 27secs.
Less than three minutes later Leeds edged ahead when Kieran Brown fired in at 26mins 52secs. It was not until 51 seconds before the next intermission that Lightning were able to get back on terms – Edgars Landsberg setting up Norris for an upstairs strike to ensure a 2-2 score.
While MK were able to roll three lines, that luxury did not apply to Leeds who could only muster two. Eventually, perhaps, that worked to Knights’ detriment, even though early on in the third period Leeds had the better chances.
A Whistle shot that hit Smital’s helmet led to the goalie having to borrow back-up Brandon Stones’ headgear for the remainder of the game, ahead of an unfruitful powerplay for the hosts after Archie Hazeldine was penalised for a high stick.
Back at even strength, Stewart raced away, going solo to beat Gospel with less than nine minutes to go before Talbot’s empty netter put the icing on the cake.