Rutkis hat-trick seals National Cup for MK Lightning

It was a comprehensive second-leg victory for MK Lightning as they secured the silverware
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MK Lightning thumped Hull Seahawks in the second-leg to lift the NIHL National Cup in comprehensive fashion.

Carrying a narrow 5-4 lead from the first-leg, Tim Wallace's side showed little desire to make it a contest, thrashing the Seahawks 5-1 - courtesy of a brilliant Tom Rutkis hat-trick - to claim a 10-5 win on aggregate and lift the trophy on home ice in front of a sell-out crowd at Planet Ice.

Lightning made the perfect start to settle any pre-game nerves with a goal inside the opening five minutes. Rory Herrman's strike was saved by the right pad of Hull netminder Jordan McLaughlin, but Ross Venus swept home the rebound.

Both netminders were busy in the opening stages, with Jordan Hedley keeping Hull out at one end, denying both Sam Towner and Jamie Chilcott, while McLaughlin at the other end kept out a two-on-one as Lightning sought to double their advantage on the night.

Nerves inside Planet Ice were further eased just before the end of the first period as Rutkis rattled home his first and Lightning's second to make it 2-0 (7-4).

Three minutes into the second period, it was 3-0 (8-4) for the hosts as Dillon Lawrence scored on a powerplay, sparking a strong spell for the hosts as they looked to put the game to bed. Venus and Wallace both went close to adding a fourth, but had to wait Rutkis' second of the night midway through the period to claim their fourth of the night.

Hull thought they had put themselves on the scoreboard at the very end of the period when Bobby Chamberlain tucked the puck home, only for it to be ruled out having gone in after the buzzer.

Lighting put a bow on the victory early in the final stretch when Rutkis sealed his hat-trick, finishing off a brilliant break from Rio Grinell-Parke.

Hull would eventually get onto the board with four minutes to go through a Finlay Ulrick score to make it 5-1 (10-5) but it was Lightning's night to celebrate.

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