Coventry Blaze 5-2 MK Lightning (23 Sept)

Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning were burned by the Blaze when they were hit with three first period goals in a 5-2 defeat at Coventry’s Skydome on Sunday.

Lightning were defend a five minute short-handed spell after new recruit Rihards Grigors was given two minutes for interference and five plus game for head-butting just 7mins 16secs into the game. That left the visitors with just two recognised defencemen – James Griffin still out injured, plus Nelson Armstrong still awaiting visa clearance and Martin Mazanec suspended.

Owen Griffiths was welcomed back after injury and Eric Neiley played despite picking up a knock the previous evening.

Almost inevitably, with such a short bench including two forwards playing defence, it was not long before Coventry pounced for the first powerplay goal after Grigors’ dismissal when Kelin Ainsworth set up Shawn Pauly to strike on 9mins 40secs.

Lightning fell further behind after Andreas Valdix was called for slashing after 11mins 34secs – Blaze taking full advantage of the five on three situation as Alex Nikiforuk was provider for captain Kevin Morris to send a shot past goalie Patrick Killeen at 12mins 27secs.

Doug McKay’s charges survived a further five on three short-handed challenge after they were penalised for having too many men on the ice, before Killeen had to be at his best to deny the home side on 17mins and again when Ben Lake tested him in the 18th minute.

But the MK stopper couldn’t prevent Lake setting up Ainsworth a few seconds to send Blaze into the break with a 3-0 lead after a goal registered at 18mins 46secs.

Killeen was the busier of the two netminders after the restart – pulling off fine stops from Luke Ferrara and Jake Hansen among others in the opening minutes before Blaze man of the match for a second night running, Jordan Hedley denied his old club.

Lightning eventually got a goal back after 30mins 25secs when Andreas Valdix and Georgs Golovkovs had a hand in Neiley’s opener for the travellers.

Neither side could make anything of the solitary powerplay chances they had before the second interval with Blaze still leading 3-1, although two minutes before the break Lightning had a lucky escape when a Hansen shot hit the bar. There was no joy either when Morris was sin binned for tripping early in the third.

Coventry came through that penalty unscathed and then extended their advantage through Ainsworth, supplied by Ferrara and Morris on 44mins 35secs. Despite the game slipping away from Lightning they didn’t give up and reduced the arrears with a Radek Meidl goal, aided by Joonas Huovinen on 48mins 10secs.

Any joy was short lived though thanks to Lake’s supply being converted by Hansen to make it 5-2 and send Lightning home after a third defeat in a row – their late opportunities hampered by a two minutes plus 10 penalty on Clay Anderson which meant they spent part of the final five minutes short-handed.

Man of the match: Radek Meidl.

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