Belfast Giants 4-1 MK Lightning (19th Oct)
By Paul Brookman
Smith Recycling Milton Keynes fell to their third defeat at the hands of Belfast Giants in a fortnight when they were outclassed in a 4-1 loss at Planet Ice on Friday.
For the early part of the game at least Lightning battled hard but in the end could not contain a Giants team which boasted strength in depth while the home side’s only real offensive threat came, once again, from Eric Neiley, Tim Wallace and goal scorer Andreas Valdix.
Czech Radek Meidl had a couple of chances but other than that there was little to suggest that Lightning would produce anything like enough to beat a Giants outfit which could call upon at least half a dozen players to come up with goals.
Lightning started brightly with Neiley and Wallace having chances saved by goalie Tyler Beskorowany before Meidl mishit an attempt which went wide of target. Giants then started to up their game and man of the match home goalie Patrick Killeen did well to stop two Hunter Bishop efforts before Darcy Murphy went close.
Nelson Armstrong tried to set up Meidl who couldn’t produce a good enough finish as the first period ended 0-0.
It was Belfast who began the second session the better of the two sides but Lightning then hit back with Wallace trying his luck without success. Home fans hopes were lifted when Neiley supplied Wallace to poke the puck in in the 27th minute – but they were quickly dashed when, after a video replay, referee Tom Darnell washed out the ‘goal’ due to the net being off its moorings.
Within seconds it was Belfast who took the lead as Mark Garside supplied Francis Beauvillier to beat Killeen at 27mins 51secs.
Just over three minutes later at 30mins 53secs Belfast doubled their advantage on the powerplay after Neiley was sin binned for roughing during a bit of pushing and shoving in front of the MK net. David Rutherford was set up by Murphy to make it 2-0.
As the period came to an end Wallace, supplied by Michael Fine, had a shot blocked before Rihards Grigors, from the blue line, passed for Joonas Huovinen but he failed to connect.
At 2-0 down going into the third session there was still all to play for – even if Lightning had been outshot 21-14 in the second period. However it proved to be a false dawn because Doug McKay’s charges ran out of steam in the last 20 minutes despite pulling a goal back when former Lightning star Lewis Hook lost possession to Meidl who set up Valdix to shoot home on 44mins 17secs.
The game took on a new dimension after Cole Shudra – who had hitherto had virtually no ice time – promptly got thrown out of the game for checking from behind when he clashed with Beskorowany on 52mins 10secs.
With Killeen also penalised for leaving his crease – he skated halfway up the ice after the Shudra- Beskorowany incident - Lightning found themselves defending a five minute penalty on which Giants were able to capitalise twice. Beauvillier was the supplier for Guillaume Gélinas’ blue line effort on 54mins 10secs to make it 3-1.
Gélinas then turned provider for Rutherford’s second strike of the night at 55mins 42secs to wrap up the game for Belfast – Lightning outshot 20 to 3 in the third period.
Man of the match: Patrick Killeen