Preview: MK Lightning v Manchester Storm (23rd Feb)
By Paul Brookman
Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning will be hoping to get back to winning ways when second from bottom of the Elite League Manchester Storm visit Planet Ice on Saturday.
Like Lightning, the Manchester outfit have found the going tough this year, although with 19 more points than Tim Wallace’s side they are still in with a chance of an end of season play-off spot.
This season has been a big contrast for Storm who shocked many of the Elite League’s big boys last year by finishing as runners-up to Cardiff Devils. That success was largely driven by the scoring prowess of Matt Beca who has since moved on to Glasgow Clan where he is again lighting the lamp regularly this campaign.
Storm did manage to retain the services of Mike Hammond and it is on him that much of the scoring load has fallen this time around. Unfortunately his tally of 60 points – 15 goals and 45 assists – is not matched by any of his team-mates other than perhaps Luke Moffatt and Ciaran Long with 45 and 42 points respectively.
The previous visit to Planet Ice for Storm saw MK run out 5-2 winners – thanks in part to a Nelson Armstrong hat-trick.
Last week Storm strengthened their Brit-pack with the acquisition of Sam Zajac from Whitley Warriors and Liam Morris from Basingstoke Bison. Zajac’s name will be familiar to Lightning fans from their English Premier League days when he played for Telford Tigers.
Both Storm and Lightning have a point to prove with both clubs falling victim to Guildford Flames in the past week. Flames inflicted a 6-1 defeat on Manchester at Altrincham on Saturday before taking the points with a narrow 1-0 win the next day.
On Wednesday MK suffered a 5-1 reverse at Flames’ Spectrum Centre home – Tim Wallace bagging the only goal for the visitors late on while Storm had a 3-2 victory against Dundee Stars with Hammond scoring the opening goal for them.
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. Face off is 7pm.