Coventry Blaze 1-2 MK Lightning (21st Oct)
By Paul Brookman
A superb display from goalie Adam Goss played a massive part in Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning snapping a three game losing streak to edge out Coventry Blaze in the Elite League Challenge Cup on Sunday.
Patrick Killeen was given a well-deserved rest after his exploits in the two previous games against Belfast Giants and Goss demonstrated to his former employers, Blaze, that he is a reliable back-up in turning away all but one of 37 shots to steer his side to a 2-1 win.
Goss’s performance was enough to earn him the man of the match award while Blaze’s scorer Nicolai Bryhnisveen received his team’s accolade.
Lightning were again without the injured Georgs Golovkovs, David Norris and Joonas Huovinen as well as Cole Shudra, serving the second of a two match suspension, while the hosts were without the influential Shawn Pauly plus Ross Venus and long term injury victim goalie Miika Wiikman, the latter’s replacement, Miroslav Kopriva facing Lightning for the first time.
Kopriva was called into action to deal with a Michael Fine effort in the opening minutes before Coventry conceded what was to prove to be a decisive penalty as Luke Ferrara was assessed two minutes in the sin bin for hooking at 5mins 20secs.
Lightning took just 24 seconds to capitalise with the extra man as defencemen Martin Mazanec and Clay Anderson had a hand in Tim Wallace put the visitors in front.
Blaze responded with a good spell of pressure but Jake Hansen no doubt wished he could have done better when faced with an open net.
Even when Blaze were handed a powerplay after Rihards Grigors was found to be guilty of slashing in the 14th minute they could find no way to level and after Lightning returned to full strength Andreas Valdix and Radek Meidl threatened Kopriva’s goal without success.
There was a further injury scar when Grigors went down hurt in the second period, however he recovered a minute or so before Blaze got themselves back in the game as David Clements and Ben Lake gained the assists on a blue line Bryhnisveen blast which eluded Goss for the equaliser at 26mins 32secs.
Home supporters’ delight was quickly quelled though as Meidl and James Griffin combined to give Andreas Valdix the opportunity from which he restored the traveller’s lead at 28mins 56secs.
It was to be the last score of the game – Lightning surviving a penalty call on Owen Griffiths for tripping before Goss produced a couple of amazing saves to deny Coventry towards the end of the period.
As the third session got under way Kopriva made a good save with his pads before Blaze captain Kevin Morris missed a great chance to level the scores – at the opposite end both Meidl and Griffin had worthwhile efforts.
There was no luck for Lightning after Clements was penalised for hooking but Coventry will have been disappointed that they could make nothing of two powerplay chances in the final ten minutes.
First Mazanec was caught tripping his opponent and then Anderson was penalised for holding. Neither resulted in an equaliser, the latter was despite Blaze withdrawing Kopriva for the extra skater for the final 18 seconds of the man advantage as MK held on for the 2-1 success.
The result means Lightning still have an outside chance of qualification for the latter stages of the cup competition. They will have to beat Guildford Flames in regulation time in the final game in Surrey on November 4.
Man of the match: Adam Goss.