MK Lightning 5-1 Nottingham Panthers (7 Oct)
By Paul Brookman
A month into the regular season Smith Reycling Milton Keynes Lightning were finally able to give a debut to defenceman Nelson Armstrong on Sunday – and he made an immediate impact as his new team stunned high flying Nottingham Panthers with a massive morale boosting 5-1 victory.
Lightning struck no less than four times in under three second-period minutes to send top of the table Panthers reeling at Planet Ice.
Canadian blue liner Armstrong’s arrival in the country had been delayed by visa problems but with less than 12 minutes gone he dropped the gloves to fight with Panthers’ experienced Brit forward, Robert Farmer.
The result was for Armstrong a total of 17 minutes off the ice for instigation and fighting while Farmer picked up two minutes for interference and five for fighting.
Panthers ran into double penalty trouble just before the mid-point of the second period when Tyler Vankleef was sin binned for a high stick and then the team was penalised for having too many men on the ice.
A well worked move involving Andreas Valdix and Tim Wallace saw Eric Neiley have an easy tap in at 30mins 11secs – just after Vankleef had returned to the ice.
Radek Meidl then fired in unassisted at 30mins 43secs and while Panthers were still recovering from that Neiley and Wallace had the assists on Michael Fine’s goal after 31mins 23secs.
Home fans could hardly believe it when their heroes stretched the lead to four just seconds into a roughing penalty on Farmer – Neiley bagging his second goal at 32mins 54secs.
Panthers started to lose the plot at this stage with Jacob Doty picking up a two minute misconduct penalty seconds later and then Guillaume Lepine going toe to toe with Clay Anderson – resulting in five minute penalties for fighting for both combatants.
Even when Fine was sent to the cooler for hooking Panthers could not cut the deficit. But after regrouping in the second intermission Panthers started to hit back with the better chances early in the third, eventually pulling a goal back on 46mins 5secs through Luke Pither – supplied by Farmer -with a high shot past Killeen.
However that was all Panthers could manage as Lightning fought to retain their advantage.
Once more the gloves were off when Lightning’s new youngster James Hounsome did battle with Jaynen Rissling – inevitably drawing five minutes in the sin bin for both for fighting.
Panthers withdrew netminder Michael Garnett for the extra skater and that gave Wallace the chance to put the result beyond doubt with an empty net strike on 57mins 58secs to make it 5-1 in what was the shock of the night’s games.
Man of the match: Eric Neiley.