Belfast Giants 5-1 MK Lightning (20th Oct)
By Paul Brookman
Belfast Giants strolled to a weekend double over a poor Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning at Planet Ice on Saturday – recording a 5-1 success to go with the previous evening’s 4-1 win.
With Georgs Golovkovs and Joonas Huovinen injured and Cole Shudra suspended Lightning barely had enough players to ice two lines of forwards – one of the perils of starting the season short-benched. In addition Ryan Lennon was missing from the blue line.
By the third period Lightning had run out of gas – as evidenced by the shots on goal tally in which the hosts recorded just one shot on goal – a new low record for a senior Milton Keynes team, while goalie Patrick Killeen had to deal with 12 shots for a game total of 43.
Had it not been for Killeen’s heroics, Giants tally may have reached double figures – having faced a total of 96 shots over the two games against Lightning’s 49. The writing was on the wall as early as the fifth minute after Andreas Valdix was called for a high stick – Kyle Baun the supplier for Hunter Bishop to beat Killeen after 5mins 33secs. Eric Neiley promptly earned an abuse of official penalty for his words to the officials following the goal.
Things got worse for Lightning on 11mins 49secs when, after blocking a long shot from Darcy Murphy, Killeen was unable to stop the follow up – the supply coming from Francis Beauvillier.
Shortly after, the hosts’ cause was not helped when they lost the services of Clay Anderson for 12 minutes for checking from behind.
Lightning defended the short-handed spell like trojans to keep Giants at bay before giving fans a moment to cheer when a mistake by Belfast behind their goal saw Owen Griffiths and Tim Wallace involved as Trevor Morbeck found himself in space to fire past Tyler Beskorowany in the visitors’ goal on 18mins 40secs.
Neiley went on a solo mission up the left early in the second session but had his shot blocked ahead of Nelson Armstrong and Murphy clashing – both earning two minutes in their respective coolers for roughing.
As the period went on Belfast started to turn the screw – Josh Roach’s effort being saved with Killeen’s pads seconds before Guillaume Gélinas’ attempt was saved by the goalie’s chest.
When Michael Fine was sin binned for slashing in the 28th minute Belfast made the most of it to take a 3-1 lead – Beauvillier registering from close range at the right post on 29mins 41secs.
Less than four minutes later the game slipped further away from MK as Dustin Johner scored from Roach’s set up.
In the dying minutes of the period Tim Wallace went on the attack with man of the match Martin Mazanec – the former’s shot being saved while Neiley almost had the puck in the net on what was probably the host’s last effective effort of the game.
The final period was tame by comparison – Belfast knew they had the points in the bag while a tired Lightning found it difficult all too often to break out of their own zone.
However there was time for one more goal after Valdix was sin binned for slashing – Kyle Baun setting up Johner to rifle in for his second goal on the powerplay at 55mins 34secs to make it 5-1 to Giants.
It was two games to forget – and put behind them – for coach Doug McKay’s men.
Man of the match: Martin Mazanec.