MK Lightning 5-6 Fife Flyers (AOT) 12th Jan
By Paul Brookman
A third period fightback by Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning ended in bitter disappointment when they went down 6-5 in overtime to Fife Flyers at Planet Ice on Saturday.
Trailing 4-2 at the second break MK looked as though they were heading for a convincing defeat. But a shorthanded goal from joint coach Tim Wallace in the opening minute of the final session sparked a turn around that hadn’t seemed likely at the interval.
And when Robbie Baillargeon put the puck into the net on the powerplay with less than 30 seconds of regulation time remaining it sent the game into the extra period. However Joe Basaraba put an end to any victory hopes Lightning had with just over two minutes of the extra session to go.
Lightning were again without the injured David Norris and they ended the encounter minus defenceman Martin Mazanec who sat out most of the third and extra periods with a leg injury. That meant MK were down to four defencemen.
Flyers incurred the first penalty as Ricards Birzins was sin binned for holding within the first two minutes – the closest Lightning went to scoring on the powerplay was a Radek Meidl attempt saved by netminder, Shane Owen, followed by a blue line Mazanec shot right at the end of the man advantage.
But it was Flyers who went in front after Ivan Šijan was sitting out a tripping call – Paul Crowder setting up Carlo Finucci to find space to score past goalie Patrick Killeen after 7mins 23secs.
But Lightning did not take long to reply as Andreas Valdix was provider for Wallace who shot to the right of Owen on 9mins 2secs.
The home side then took full advantage when Crowder was penalised for hooking in the 13th minute – defenceman Nelson Armstrong’s shot through traffic completely eluding Owen on 14mins 50secs.
Crowder almost immediately tried to make amends for his misdemeanour with a shot which Killeen was able to save.
Going into the middle period a goal in front, Lightning soon saw that wiped out after Michael Fine had an early attempt from the right blocked by the goalie. As play switched to other end of the ice Birzins supplied Flyers’ man of the match Brett Bulmer for the leveller on 22mins 40secs.
That sparked Flyers to greater efforts while Lightning seemed to be operating at a lower pace at times. The visitors earned their reward when Scott Aarssen sent Bulmer clear for a blast which Killeen stretched for but couldn’t reach after 27mins 15secs.
A couple of minutes later Georgs Golovkovs was thwarted by the goalie before Lightning’s plight worsened as Chase Schaber scored on 32mins 45secs with a weak effort which, on a different night, Killeen would have probably dealt with.
Within seconds of the start of the third session Valdix was sent to the cooler for holding but instead of being pinned back on their own zone MK were able to break out with Wallace going on a breakaway to beat Owen with a great backhand shot at 40mins 30secs.
There was no joy for the home outfit on two powerplays – Evan Bloodoff (hooking) and Marcus Basara (high stick) serving time. However six seconds after Basara returned to action Armstrong bagged his second goal of the game with rocket from just inside the blue line to equalise on 47mins 46secs.
If MK thought that would be enough to secure overtime they were handed another blow after James Griffin was penalised for slashing – Flyers making the most of the powerplay with Danick Gauthier having the final touch past Killeen to put his side 5-4 ahead on 50mins 55secs.
There was to be another twist though before the end of regulation time. After Griffin (slashing) and Gauthier (roughing) clashed, resulting in penalties, MK called a timeout and took Killeen off for the extra skater.
The skater advantage became two as Crowder was caught hooking Baillargeon. The MK forward exacted his revenge in the best way possible when he squared things up again from close range with 28.6 seconds remaining.
That sent the game into overtime ended by Basaraba’s goal for Flyers on 62mins 54secs – it was a big disappointment for the home fans after the fine efforts of the third session.
Man of the match: Nelson Armstrong - Sponsored by University of Buckingham