Preview: MK Lightning v Fife Flyers (Sun 9 Dec, 5.15pm)
By Paul Brookman
Fife Flyers make their first visit to Planet Ice this season on Sunday when Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning will be looking to even scores with the side from north of the border.
Lightning lost 4-1 in Kirkcaldy at the end of October when Fife were flying, to pardon the pun. Coached by the longest serving chief in the Elite League, Todd Dutiaume, Fife began the season in great style and in the early weeks they were leading the pack.
Since that win over Lightning things have gone a bit pear-shaped for Fife – last Sunday’s 4-3 overtime win at Manchester Storm was their first victory in seven outings. It was in stark contrast to October’s form when Flyers recorded six wins from eight games,
True recent losses have included tough encounters with the likes of Cardiff Devils (twice) and Nottingham Panthers but two defeats to arch rivals, Dundee Stars, won’t have gone down well with the Kirkcaldy faithful.
However Fife cannot be underestimated – they have some firepower in their ranks. Top goal scorer is Paul Crowder who is well on his way to overhauling the total of 33 points (14 goals and 19 assists) he amassed with Cardiff Devils last year. He has 26 points (12 goals and 14 assists) so far this year, ahead of Brett Bulmer (11 goals and 17 assists), a newcomer to this country this season, having signed from Florida Everblades of the ECHL.
There are a couple of familiar faces on the Fife roster – Bari McKenzie once played for Lightning early in their English Premier League days more than a decade ago while Evan Stoflet joined the club just before Christmas last year and saw out the final half of the season in Milton Keynes.
Other players to look out for include Canadian-Italian dual national Carlo Finucci who is in his third season with Flyers having first made his mark in this country with Swindon Wildcats, then in the EPL.
Mike Cazzola saw service with Edinburgh Capitals last year, registering 53 points on a poor team – this term he has 19 and has clocked up a fair number of man of the match awards.
First choice goalie is Shane Owen who divided last season playing in Sweden, North America and Poland.
For their part Lightning will be aiming to continue their recent good form at home where they have won three of the last four fixtures. The game which faces off at 5.15pm comes off the back of a long trip to Scotland on Saturday when MK faceDundee Stars on Tayside.
Book your tickets at mk-lightning.co.uk/tickets. Alternatively buy your tickets on the door or in advance. Call us on 01908 540020.