Smith Recycling MK Lightning welcomed new Finnish import Antti Hölli to the line-up, but there was no happy ending as his team ended up on the wrong end of a 3-1 score at Basingstoke Bison on Saturday.
However the two goal gap was perhaps unfair on Lightning who battled to the end with the game only settled by former MK forward Rene Jarolin’s short-handed goal 27 seconds from the buzzer.
From the off the encounter was almost predictably a physical affair with referee Roman Szucs attempting to let play flow in the early stages. But it was not long before he reigned in Bison’s Derek Roehl and MK’s Frankie Bakrlik for delay of the game in the seventh minute.
Just over a minute later two more players followed them to the sin bin – one apiece for Bison and Lightning with Aaron Connolly going for charging and James Griffin for slashing.
They were joined in the penalty box by Declan Balmer and Bakrlik – only seconds after his return to the ice – both on slashing calls.
In the following minutes a long range effort by Sam Jones went close while Milan Baranyk had his shot blocked.
It was Bison who were first off the mark when Ciaran Long fired home from a set up by Dan Davies and Roehl on 14mins 32secs.
Roehl – plus Bakrlik – were back in the cooler shortly after for a total of four minutes for roughing and slashing.
Five seconds from the end of the first period Hölli tested goalie Tomas Hiadlovsky but the shot failed to beat him so the session ended 1-0 in Bison’s favour.
As Bison attempted to extend their advantage Connolly and Jan Jarabek both saw their efforts come to nothing before a high sticks penalty on Roehl gave Lightning their first powerplay on 26mins 9secs.
The visitors didn’t waste the opportunity with Bakrlik and Jordan Cownie having a hand in Baranyk’s equaliser on 27mins 18secs.
It proved to be the only goal of the middle stanza even though there were chances for both combatants – Jarolin’s shot being deflected wide.
Long received a total of 14 minutes for attempted butt ending after 31mins 48secs, giving MK a powerplay during which Griffin’s long blast went wide.
Bison edged ahead within 1min 35secs of the start of the final session when Tomas Karpov and youngster Ivan Antonov helped set up Shaun Thompson to beat goalie Przemy Odrobny.
Lightning then found themselves a man short as Leigh Jamieson was sin binned for hooking in 45th minutes and as Bison’s powerplay came to an end Dan Davies’ left wing shot went wide.
Coach Pete Russell called a time out in a bid to put his team back in the game but ultimately it proved to be of no avail – the cause not being helped by a 49th minute boarding call on Blaz Emersic, followed by a cross-checking penalty against Bakrlik three minutes later.
There was a glimmer of hope for the traveller when Kurt Reynolds was handed a 12 minute penalty for a check to the head followed by two minutes for delay of the game for Jarabek in the 55th and 57th minutes.
Jordan Hedley replaced Odrobny in the net as MK sought to exert maximum attacking pressure but instead it was Jarolin who capitalised to make it 3-1 to Bison at 59mins 34secs and end Lightning’s hopes.
Man of the Match: Tom Carlon #23
Report: Paul Brookman