Coventry Blaze 4-5 MK Lightning (APS) 23rd Dec
By Paul Brookman
Georgs Golovkovs was the hero of the hour as Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning snatched two important Elite League points in a penalty shoot-out at Coventry Blaze on Sunday.
Lightning took a 3-1 lead towards the end of the first period only to see that wiped out with less than a quarter of an hour to the end of regulation time when Blaze edged in front. But MK struck again with just over five minutes remaining to send the game into overtime which failed to separate the two outfits.
Michael Fine and Tim Wallace got Lightning’s penalties off to a great start as both converted while Blaze’s opening pair, Thom Flodqvist and Ben Lake, both had their efforts saved by goalie Patrick Killeen.
Blaze then closed the gap after Robbie Baillargeon saw his shot saved and Alex Nikiforuk scored before Nelson Armstrong and Coventry’s Kevin Noble both failed to register. Golovkovs ended the drama with his winning shot.
Earlier there was a dramatic opening couple of minutes when Nicolai Bryhnisveen, assisted by Noble, put Blaze in front after 1min 37secs with Lightning replying just 12 seconds later as Clay Anderson supplied Radek Meidl who went through two opposition defencemen before firing through goalie Miroslav Kopriva’s legs to equalise.
Meidl then set up Baillargeon at the back post to slot in for MK’s second goal on 8mins 36secs before Armstrong was instrumental in supplying Meidl for his second of the night to give the visitors a 3-1 lead at 12mins 54secs.
A tripping penalty on Ivan Šijan proved to be the opening for Coventry to reduce the arrears on the powerplay within nine seconds – Nikiforuk assisting on Lake’s goal at 17mins 10secs – Adam Goss temporarily replacing Killeen in the goal while he had a skate repaired.
The 3-2 first break advantage was maintained through to the second interval despite Coventry being afforded two powerplay opportunities when Fine was sent to the cooler for hooking and then Martin Mazanec went for slashing.
There was no change to the tallies when Luke Ferrara was sin binned for interference inside the first three minutes of the final regulation period – in fact it was Blaze who went closest to scoring with Killeen forced to make a massive shorthanded save.
Back at even strength Coventry equalised through Lake after 44mins 44secs and then dealt MK a blow with Armstrong in the penalty box for hooking – Tim Crowder involved as Shawn Pauly struck on the powerplay at 46mins 4secs.
But Lightning were not finished and Anderson supplied Owen Griffiths to register on 54mins 40secs – a goal which ensured overtime and, ultimately, a penalty shootout sealed by Golovkovs’ winner.
Man of the match: Patrick Killeen - Sponsored by Smith Recycling