Steeldogs scare Lightning late on but Bison provide the bite
A late surge by Sheffield Steeldogs gave MK Lightning a scare before they eventually came through as 4-3 victors in overtime at MK Arena on Saturday.
With less than a quarter of an hour to go Lightning were leading 3-0 and cruising to an easy win.
But a series of penalties against the home side turned the game on its head and gave Steeldogs their chance and they eventually drew level with 47 seconds of regulation time remaining.
That sent the game into sudden death overtime and it took Lewis Hook, supplied by Jordan Cownie, just 44 seconds to reduce home fans’ blood pressure with the goal.
However there was no great escape at Basingstoke Bison the following day. Glenn Billing and the long term injured Mikolaj Lopuski, who both missed the Steeldogs game, were joined on the injured list by Bobby Chamberlain and Michael Farn.
It all proved too much as Bison ran out 4-0 winners in Hampshire.
On Saturday Lightning dominated the first period - the only surprise being the fact that they only managed to beat Steeldogs netminder James Hadfield twice.
Farn and Milan Baranyk had a hand as Tom Carlon shot home to put MK in front on 2mins 16secs.
The pressure was virtually relentless in the following minutes.
Lightning were short-handed when Baranyk was called for slashing Hadfield at 6mins 7secs. Even then Steeldogs could make no impression.
Lewis Bell did give goalie Przemy Odrobny work with as he shot weakly from the right.
Hadfield then blocked a fine Carlon shot before getting his body in the way of a Frankie Bakrlik blast as the score remained 1-0.
That changed with Chamberlain the supplier for Bakrlik to unleash a powerblast from just inside the blue line on the left for goal number two on 19mins 26secs.
Pete Russell’s men carried on where they left off in the second period after Pavel Mrna produced an early shot which Odrobny saved with his glove. Cownie found Ed Knaggs venturing forward but he was unable to connect and then a Blaz Emersic shot was blocked by the goalie.
Lightning went close while on the powerplay after Donatas Kumeliauskas was sin binned for hooking in a scramble in front of the net. However the puck stayed out.
With the teams back at even strength the pressure on Steeldogs continued so it was little surprise when Carlon was involved in setting up Sam Jones for the third goal on 36mins 15secs.
Things started to go wrong after Baranyk was given two minutes in the cooler for holding on 45mins 54secs. Within 22 seconds Kumeliauskas made it 3-1.
The hosts were in penalty trouble again on 50mins 25secs as Michael Farn was called for slashing and 32 seconds later Jones was handed a five plus game penalty for a high stick – reducing MK to three skaters
Farn’s penalty hardly had time to expire before Kumeliauskas doubled his tally at 52mins 32secs with Mrna snatching the equaliser at 59mins 13secs.
Hook’s overtime winner finally ended Steeldogs’ challenge.
The next day Bison ended MK’s four game winning streak – putting a dent in the city side’s hopes of keeping pace with league leaders Telford Tigers
The clash was just 3mins 46secs old when Luc Johnson was sin binned for tripping and Bison went ahead through Derek Roehl on the powerplay.
That was to prove to be the only goal of the first period even though referee Stefan Hogarth dished out penalties to both outfits.
At one stage the hosts suffered two quick penalties giving MK a five on three advantage but the visitors could not capitalise.
The middle stanza saw plenty more penalties but it was a cross-checking call on Bakrlik in the 33rd minute that made the difference - Dan Davies beating Odrobny on 34mins 42secs.
A two goal deficit was not unsurmountable going into the final period but with four players missing Lightning faced a tough task.