MK Lightning 1-4 Manchester Storm (29 Sept)

By Paul Brookman

A fourth minute goal from Radek Meidl was the solitary moment of joy for a Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning team still looking for a win after a 4-1 defeat at Altrincham against Manchester Storm on Saturday.

It took Lightning’s losing streak to four games against a Storm side who had, hitherto, only won twice this season. While the scoreline – which included an empty net goal – did not do MK justice, the visitors did not really look like turning the game around once Manchester had established a 3-1 advantage at the second break.

There was a disastrous start to the encounter for Lightning when Manchester returnee from last season, Mike Hammond, beat goalie Patrick Killeen with a shot through his legs with just 1min 13sec of the game played. It was Hammond’s first game since injury and his first shot on Storm’s opening attack.

Linden Springer shot wide for Storm before Michael Fine had a good chance ahead of Meidl’s great top shelf shot to beat goalie Matt Ginn on 4mins 16secs.

Storm’s Evan Richardson was penalised for a face off violation in the seventh minute but instead of MK being able to take advantage on the powerplay it was Storm who re-established the lead.

Again it was Hammond on the mark after he broke away with Martin Mazanec – back from his pro-longed suspension – giving chase but always a yard behind him. Killeen could do nothing to stop his upstairs blast on 8mins 16secs to make it 2-1 to the hosts.

Seconds later Doug McKay’s side were afforded a five on three powerplay as Dane Byers made his way to the penalty box for tripping. But there was no goal on the two man advantage or the five on four which was ended prematurely when Eric Neiley was sent to the cooler for holding.

The penalties produced no change to the score and with just over five minutes to go on the period Meidl went crashing to the net but was unable to get a serious shot away. Georgs Golovkovs then shot from distance, the puck rebounding off the netminder but there was no one there to follow up.

Killeen produced a brilliant stop to prevent Manchester going into the locker room at the break with a two goal lead.

Powerplay chances for both outfits early in the second session came and went with no further additions to the scoreline – Manchester were called for too many men with a Golovkovs effort on the powerplay being the best of the MK chances.

Three minutes later Mazanec was caught for interference but Manchester could find no way through MK’s stubborn penalty kill unit. With penalty expired Lightning had the puck in the net only for the ‘goal’ to be disallowed after a video reply. The officials rightly judged Neiley to have been interfering with Ginn when the long range shot went in.

After the mid-point of the period the game became briefly more niggly – Andreas Valdix was assessed two plus 10mins for checking to the head of Linden Springer before Dallas Erhardt was sin binned for cross checking.

Moments later Manchester stretched their lead to two when Byers put the puck in at second attempt after Killeen was unable to hold his first effort – the goal assisted by Luke Moffatt at 33mins 45secs.

Shane Bakker tried to goad Mazanec into a fight after the MK player had flattened his team-mate – all he earned for his attempt was a two minute penalty for roughing while the Lightning man was given two minutes for interference.

It was perhaps not surprising that tempers were becoming frayed, especially after Michael Fine and Storm’s Declan Balmer’s exchange led to them both being sent to the cooler for five minutes for fighting.

The result was a dust up involving several players after the buzzer went – Storm’s Harrison Ruopp and Byers plus Neiley all being penalties for fighting. Byers also received a game misconduct for fighting.

Once the penalties had expired the rest of the game was tame by comparison with real chances few and far between. Ginn saved from Fine in the 48th minute with the goalie having to kick away a Meidl effort from the left – among the few Lightning chances.

Manchester seemed content to defend their lead but they were given the opportunity to extend it after Killeen was withdrawn for the extra skater with a minute to go. Erhardt was able to thread the puck out of defence to Moffatt who was able to race away – Mazanec unable to catch him – to score on the empty net with 22 seconds remaining.

Man of the match: Georg Golovkovs.

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