Glasgow Clan 6-4 MK Lightning (27th Oct)
By Paul Brookman
Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning slumped to their 12th loss of the season after they gifted Glasgow Clan a four goal start Braehead Arena on Saturday.
Lightning were four goals behind by the eighth minute and although they rallied to 4-2 at one stage they were never realistically in with a chance of turning the game around against the more experienced Clan side coached by MK’s former chief, Peter Russell.
One of the few positives to come from the encounter was the man of the match performance by new signing Robbie Baillargeon who bagged two goals in the 6-4 defeat which left many fans wondering where the next win was coming from. Lightning are anchored at the foot of the Elite League – three points behind Sheffield Steelers, albeit with three games in hand.
The game was just 4mins 26secs old when Brit Craig Peacock was set up by Tyson Wilson and Rasmus Bjerrum for the opening strike beyond goalie Patrick Killeen. By that stage Baillargeon had hit the bar with a shot. Within 12 seconds Clan doubled their lead as former Belfast Giants man Brendan Connolly registered the first goal of his hat-trick.
MK coach Doug McKay called an immediate timeout but whatever was said, or not said, had little effect because at 7mins 24secs his charges went further behind as Connolly struck again, assisted by Travis Erhardt and Josh Gratton.
Worse was to come less than a minute later when Vaclav Stupka - helped by ex-Sheffield Steeler Zack Fitzgerald and Matt Stanisz made it 4-0. That signalled the end of Killeen’s involvement with back-up Adam Goss taking over between the pipes.
Goss was able to steady the ship although his team were heavily outshot 18-5 in the first period – as they were in every one for a total of 24 shots against Clan’s 39.
Lightning finally gave their travelling army of fans something to cheer when Baillargeon took the puck past three Clan players to slot over goalie Joel Rumpel’s right shoulder for a powerplay marker at 22mins 59secs – Scott Pitt serving time for a high stick.
There was no joy for MK on the next powerplay –Clan guilty of having too many men on the ice – but they did narrow the gap further as Tim Wallace supplied Clay Anderson who beat a Clan defenceman before shooting through traffic to make it 4-2 at 29mins 8secs.
Owen Griffiths was sin-binned for a high stick as the second session ended – a penalty which cost his team just nine seconds after the restart with ex-Manchester Storm Matt Beca making the pass for Bjerrum to take the tally to 5-2 in Clan’s favour.
Even though Lightning’s hopes were fading they still tried to press and were rewarded when Radek Meidl was provider for Tim, Wallace just over a minute later.
But once more Clan stretched the lead as Connolly completed his hat-trick after 44mins 49secs – Gratton and Beca also having hand in the effort.
There was no luck for Lightning when Stanisz was called for interference ahead of Goss making a fine save when faced with a two on one Clan attack.
Baillargeon hit his second goal with a great wrap around with 1min 49secs remaining before, in a last ditch attempt, Goss was withdrawn for the extra skater – all to no avail with Clan able to hold on for a 6-4 win.
After the buzzer Peter Russell – who went on to coach Great Britain to a World Championship Gold medal after departing from Milton Keynes – went over to acknowledge the travelling army of fans, much to their delight.
Man of the match: Robbie Baillargeon.