MK Lightning 3-2 Dundee Stars (30 Sept)
By Paul Brookman
An overtime powerplay strike by Andreas Valdix finally snapped Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning’s four game losing streak as they secured a 3-2 victory against Dundee Stars at Planet Ice on Sunday.
But it was a hard won victory with Stars coming back from a two goal second period deficit to tie the encounter up less than seven minutes from the end of regulation time when Brian Hart rifled the puck in at the right post.
The goal was enough to send the game into the sudden death extra period. And it looked as though penalty shots would be required until a 62nd minute clipping call on Stars’ centre Charles Corcoran gave Lightning the breakthrough to send their fans home happy.
After the penalty was called head coach Doug McKay called a timeout. Whatever he said to the players worked. A minute or so later on 64mins 6secs goalie Patrick Killeen began the move which saw man of the match Eric Neiley set up his former Sheffield Steelers team-mate Valdix for a blast from inside the blue line which eluded Stars netminder Pontus Sjogren for the winning goal.
Lightning were again without the injured James Griffin but welcomed back Rihards Grigors back from suspension while Martin Mazanec made his home league debut after suspension.
Killeen was called into action in the third minute when Fabrizio Ricci tested him out while a couple of minutes later Radek Meidl closed in on goal but failed to finish off. Corcoran then saw his shot come off Killeen’s pads before Lightning went in front after Valdix supplied Neiley for an upstairs shot which Sjogren was unable to get to at 7mins 15secs.
Seconds later Michael Fine unsuccessfully attempted to capitalise while Stars tried to regroup. An 11th minute penalty for elbows on Mazanec gave Stars the powerplay but it was Lightning who went closest while short-handed as Neiley and Tim Wallace went on a two man break.
Sjogren was beaten but after a video reply the referees, Blake Copeland and Chris Wells, quickly ruled the puck had not completely crossed the goal line.
Therefore MK went into the first interval with a slender advantage – both sides having fruitless chances during the remainder of the period.
Dundee had the brighter start to the second period with Corcoran, charging up the left, failing to beat Killeen before the hosts had a sustained spell of pressure – Mazanec seeing his blue line effort saved by the goalie, Georgs Golovkovs almost bundling the puck over the line and Owen Griffiths shooting wide after being clear on goal.
Griffiths made amends a little later – but only after MK had been forced to survive a five on three penalty as Mazanec (delaying the game) joined Wallace (interference) in the sin bin.
Back at even strength it was Wallace who was credited with the first assist on Griffiths’ goal at 30mins 4secs to give MK a two goal cushion before David Norris hobbled off the ice with a right leg injury. He played no further part in the game.
Lightning began the third period a man short after Ryan Lannon was sin binned for delaying the game. They survived that unscathed but finally succumbed to Stars who turned up the gas for the first few minutes of the session – their reward coming when MK failed to clear the zone after Francois Bouchard’s shot rebounded off Killeen – Drydn Dow following up at 47mins 16secs.
The hosts regrouped going into the last stretch of regulation time – only to concede the leveller when Dow made the pass for Hart to fire in from close in on 53mins 6secs.
It threatened to knock the stuffing out of Lightning but they were able to settle again to see the game into overtime and the ultimate joy of Valdix’s winner.
Man of the match: Eric Neiley.