Coventry Blaze 5-2 MK Lightning (10th March)
By Paul Brookman
There was no joy at the Skydome when Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning suffered a weekend double defeat to local rivals Coventry Blaze on Sunday.
The 5-2 loss followed a 6-3 reverse in Milton Keynes the previous day and ensured Blaze stayed in touch with the contest for the final Elite League play-off spot – Manchester Storm on the same number of points just edging into the top eight thanks to a 4-2 win over Dundee Stars on Sunday.
Lightning’s result left them 18 points adrift of Dundee who are in tenth place.
There was an early blow for Lightning and their large travelling army of fans when Owen Griffiths was penalised for tripping after 2mins 37secs. From the resulting powerplay Kevin Morris set up Dillon Lawrence to beat goalie Adam Goss, given a rare start in between the pipes.
The visitors saw off a penalty on James Griffin for delaying the game, having hit the puck over the Plexiglas in the eighth minute and then had a powerplay of their own when Blaze’s top scorer Ben Lake was sent to the cooler for charging. Neither resulted in any goals, and there was a similar outcome when Griffin was back in the box for an identical infraction in the 15th minute.
Blaze did however extend their advantage on 18mins 34secs as Ivan Puzic supplied Thom Flodqvist for a shot which put daylight in between the two sides going into the first break.
Flodqvist was back on the mark just 1min 4secs into the second session – this time set up by Alex Nikiforuk. That gave Lightning a mountain to climb – a task which ultimately proved insurmountable.
There were further man advantage spells for Tim Wallace’s men before the second break – Nicolai Bryhnisveen being caught for a late hit and then Blaze having too many men on the ice, but the home goal remained intact.
Indeed it was not until 1min 27secs into the third period that netminder Matt Hackett’s goal was breached as Griffin atoned for his earlier penalties by making the pass for Robbie Baillargeon to send home.
But in a repeat of the previous night’s encounter a couple of quick Blaze goals removed any chance of an MK fightback. First Lake was provider for Tim Crowder on 48mins 53secs to make it 4-1 before David Clements and Shawn Pauly had the assists on Morris’ strike at 49mins 22secs.
By the time Georgs Golovkovs fired home unassisted at 51mins 20secs the game was already lost.
Man of the match: Georgs Golovkovs (sponsored by Cineworld MK)
Main image: Scott Wiggins.