Fife Flyers 5-2 MK Lightning (1st March)
By Paul Brookman
Fife Flyers claimed victory after Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning’s long journey north on Friday – but only after the visitors lost focus in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Until then Tim Wallace’s army gave as good as they got and were only trailing by a solitary strike going into the last six minutes. In the end though the margin of the 5-2 win looked more comfortable than it was for Flyers whose promising early season start has dissipated somewhat as the campaign has gone on.
There was an early clash between Nelson Armstrong and former Lightning player Bari McKenzie which resulted in four minute penalties for both – the former for cross-checking and the latter for roughing.
And the penalties were just about to expire when Flyers broke through to score four on four through Brett Bulmer, assisted by Mike Cazzola and Ricards Birzins at 7mins 11secs.
The hosts held onto the one goal lead at the first break but it was soon wiped out thanks to a hooking call on Bulmer which gave Lightning the man advantage from which Tim Wallace was able to set up man of the match Robbie Baillargeon for the equaliser at 21mins 56secs.
Unfortunately for the travellers parity did not last long with Flyers retaking the lead within two minutes as Birzins and Bulmer had a hand in Cazzola’s strike at 22mins 37secs.
Both teams found themselves players down after the Fife bench received an unsportsmanlike penalty at the same time as Cazzola was caught slashing. While those calls were in progress Michael Fine was sin binned for hooking.
Whatever the calls had no effect on the scoreline with the second break seeing Flyers in front by one a lead which was stretched by an unassisted Danick Gauthier marker on 47mins 9secs.
Shortly afterwards Birzins was given two minutes in the cooler for tripping and from the resulting powerplay MK again reduced the deficit – Andreas Valdix supplying Baillargeon for the shot to beat goalie Shane Owen on 49mins 20secs.
That was to be Lightning’s final goal. Although they came through a Fine hooking penalty they conceded again after 53mins when Bulmer added his second goal of the night – aided by Cazzola and Gauthier.
Any hope of a late comeback by Lightning was then destroyed when James Griffin received two plus 10 for a check from behind with two and a half minutes to go. Fife’s Joe Basaraba registered on the powerplay at 57mins 3secs to make it 5-2 – game over with no chance to withdraw the net minder in favour of the extra skater.
Man of the match: Robbie Baillargeon (sponsored by City Apartments)