MK Lightning 6-1 Glasgow Clan (14th Nov)
By Paul Brookman
A straight hat-trick from acting coach Tim Wallace steered Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning to their first victory in eight games when they defeated Glasgow Clan 6-1 at Planet Ice on Wednesday.
The win came just hours after Lightning parted company with coach Doug McKay – Wallace and defenceman Ryan Lannon being appointed to share coaching duties - while Milton Keynes Thunder coach, Lewis Clifford, stepped in as bench coach for the game.
It was a sad first return to Milton Keynes for former chief, Peter Russell, now in charge of a Glasgow side that couldn’t cope with a re-energised home outfit.
Lightning began in super style when they went a goal up within the first 2mins 2secs of the encounter as Eric Neiley made a pass across the face of goal to Robbie Baillargeon to poke home from close range.
It was not long before Clan ran into penalty trouble – with costly consequences. First former Sheffield Steeler Zack Fitzgerald was called for for delaying the game when he blasted the puck out of play. Unfortunately it hit a spectator on her forehead and she required medical treatment.
Fitzgerald’s two minute spell off the ice still had about 30 seconds to run when Matt Stanisz was called for tripping – giving MK a brief two man advantage.
The first penalty had just expired when Andreas Valdix set up Tim Wallace for a shot from the right circle which eluded goalie Joel Rumpel on the left of goal at 4mins 41secs to make it 2-0.
At this stage Clan had hardly bothered Patrick Killeen in the Lightning goal – something of a novelty for the stopper after the barrage of shots he faced in his previous two games.
It was not until Matt Beca tried his luck from a long way out that Killeen was called into action for what was an easy save.
Cole Shudra then went close to adding to the hosts’ total – his effort hitting the outside of the post before Radek Meidl’s effort was turned away by the netminder.
Clan snatched their only goal after MK were penalised for too many men in the 17th minute. On the powerplay Killeen was caught out when Matt Stanisz charged in unmarked to meet Craig Peacock’s pass and crash the puck into the net at 18mins 52secs.
After the break Lightning carried on where they left off with Georgs Golovkovs dancing his way through the Clan defence, only to fail to find the final finish. Nelson Armstrong then saw his effort stopped by the goalie.
A cross checking penalty on Brendan Connolly gave MK the powerplay from which they extended their tally to three as Michael Fine set up Wallace to blast home from the blue line on 27mins 11secs.
Clan were becoming increasingly frustrated by that stage and Gerard Hanson clashed with Neiley – the Glasgow player earning an extra two minutes in the sin bin for holding as both received roughing penalties.
From the resulting powerplay Wallace struck again from distance to complete his trio of goals – this time Andreas Valdix was the provider on 32mins 11secs.
Before the period end Clan lost the services of Zack Fitzgerald after he scythed down Meidl – he was given five minutes plus game for fighting. At the same time Connolly tried to goad Killeen with the result that Shudra jumped off the bench to protect his goalie. Connolly was given 12 minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct and Shudra was thrown out for leaving the bench and five minutes for fighting.
The third session was relatively tame by comparison but there was time for two more Lightning goals – Neiley made it 5-1 on the powerplay at 48mins 12secs before Golovkovs, using Armstrong as decoy, instead shot past Rumpel for the final goal after 49mins 55secs.
Man of the match: Tim Wallace (Sponsored by Bill's Coach and Minibus Hire)