Preview: MK Lightning v Cardiff Devils (20th Dec)

High-flying Cardiff Devils make their second visit to Planet Ice in little over a month on Thursday with Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning aiming to go three goals better than when the sides last met in the city.

The 4-2 loss to Devils in early November was the last game in charge for coach Doug McKay who was replaced three days later by player coaches Ryan Lannon and Tim Wallace.

Since then Lightning’s results have improved – including a shock 3-2 victory against Cardiff Devils at Ice Arena Wales on November 25 when Georgs Golovkovs scored the overtime winner 3mins 44secs into the extra period. It was the Latvian’s second of the game so Devils coach Andrew Lord will no doubt be paying him special attention this time around.

Lannon and Wallace in return will know that Lightning will have to keep tabs on Devils’ top scorer Charles Linglet who scored his team’s first goal in that Ice Arena clash. In his first season with Cardiff the Belarus/Canadian dual national has certainly made an impact. He is their top scorer with 11 goals and 25 points for 37 points overall – ranking him fifth in the Elite League charts.

Linglet has spent a lot of his career playing in the KontinentalHockey League – widely regarded as the second toughest in the world – last year he played for Dinamo Minsk, amassing six goals and 11 assists. Earlier in his career he played five games for Edmonton Oilers in the NHL.

Centre Joey Martin has become a fans favourite and is now in his fifth tour of duty with the Welsh outfit – last year he bagged 27 goals and 46 points – 73 in total – in a big contribution to the side’s championship winning total.

The goals don’t just come from forwards though – blue liner Gleason Fournier who has stayed loyal to Devils for four seasons is 10th on the Elite League chart at present with 11 goals and 20 assists.

Cardiff currently sit second in the table – four points behind Belfast Giants but with three games in hand – including the loss against Lightning they’ve missed out four times in overtime and only lost on four other occasions this campaign.

It’s sure to be a tough battle for Lightning on Thursday – and one not to miss. Face off is 7.30pm. Tickets are available by visiting mk-lightning.co.uk/tickets. Alternatively buy your tickets on the door or in advance at Planet Ice. Call us on 01908 540020.

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