MK Lightning 2-4 Fife Flyers (16th March)
By Paul Brookman
Tired legs caught up with Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning when they could find no answer to three Fife Flyers third period goals at Planet Ice on Saturday.
Lightning struck twice in just over a minute in the middle period to recover from a first break deficit but there was always a suspicion that the Scottish visitors still had another gear to slip into. And so it proved when they came up with a trio of goals to eventually win 4-2 and take a vital step to securing a play-off place.
For Lightning fans still coming to terms with the news that the team is to step down into a newly formed National Ice Hockey League division next term all they were left with to cheer was the last gasp drama of a bout of fisticuffs between Nelson Armstrong and Flyers’ Danick Gauthier. The MK player just about edged the battle but picked up a two minutes plus 10 penalty for instigating the fight which also saw both players receive five minute calls.
There were two early powerplay opportunities for Lightning when Gauthier was sin binned for holding the opponent’s stick after only 33 seconds and then top scorer Brett Bulmer was sidelined for unsportsmanlike conduct in the third minute. But the hosts could make nothing of either penalty although Georgs Golovkovs did have good efforts on both spells with the extra man.
In the 10th minute Evan Bloodoff threatened on the break, forcing a glove save from goalie Patrick Killeen before man of the match Martin Mazanec was penalised for tripping – again no goal resulting.
Fife edged in front on 18mins 21secs after Trevor Morbeck was called for tripping – Joe Basaraba’s blue line blast rebounding off Killeen for Marcus Basara to follow up.
Lightning had the best of the early second period chances – Andreas Valdix’s effort from the left hand side ending in netminder Shane Owen’s arms before Golovkovs’ pass to Owen Griffiths resulting in a shot which was blocked. Owen then then denied Michael Fine.
Carlo Finucci was thwarted by good defensive work by Lightning ahead of a good block from Owen from Fine.
Valdix levelled the tallies on 28mins 4secs with goalie Owen spreadeagled on the ice – the puck somehow finding a way under him.
Just 1min 3secs later Lightning were in front thanks to a close range poke in from David Norris.
As Lightning sought to build on their lead Golovkovs tried to set up Morbeck for a blast which was saved and then Armstrong had a shot from the right blocked.
Fife had a couple of efforts late in the session – Ricards Birzins going close before Mike Cazzola supplying Gauthier whose shot was blocked.
Bari McKenzie finally put Flyers back on terms after 44mins 45secs as he seized on a rebound off the pipework from Craig Moore. Buoyed by that goal Fife forged ahead at 46mins 57secs with top scorer Brett Bulmer finishing off from Cazzola.
At this stage it was Flyers putting on the pressure and they further increased their lead after 52mins 5secs thanks to Paul Crowder with a scrambled effort.
Lightning tried in vain to fight back but there was too little gas in the tank although Robbie Baillargeon went close with a shot which was blocked from a Golovkovs set up.
The home side’s chances were eventually scuppered by the clash between Armstrong and Gauthier which resulted in the additional penalty for the MK man and a powerplay for Flyers.
Man of the match: Martin Mazanec (sponsored by Martin & Co)
Watch Tim Wallace's post match interview by clicking here