Bracknell Bees put up a brave fight but ultimately couldn’t match the strength of Smith Recycling MK Lightning who showed why they are challenging for the English Premier League title with a 5-2 victory at The Hive on Sunday.
Three third period goals – including an empty-netter after Bees withdrew goalie Alex Mettam in favour of the extra skater – sealed the points after the home side twice led earlier in the encounter.
Lightning had the early pressure with Lewis Hook and Frankie Bakrlik both testing Mettam in the opening minutes but it was veteran Lukas Smital who was first off the mark to give Bees the lead on 14mins 47secs – assisted by Shaun Thompson and Alex Barker.
Pete Russell’s men immediately went after the equaliser and they took only 62 seconds to achieve their aim with Craig Scott and Lewis Christie involved when Blaz Emersic went one on one with Mettam before pushing the puck under the goalie.
As the first session drew near to a close netminder Przemy Odrobny prevented Bees from edging ahead again with a glove save from Josh Smith – the period ending with Lightning dominating the shots on goal with 12 on Mettam and Bees managing just five.
The visitors had the first opportunity of the middle stanza as Bakrlik set up Luc Johnson for an effort which was turned aside before the home outfit went in front again defenceman David Gaborcik supplying Luka Basic on 23mins 10secs.
Adam Carr and Bees Josh Tetlow were consigned to the sin bin in the 25th minute following a spot of roughing ahead of Olegs Lascenko joining them for hooking – giving Lightning the powerplay which they were unable to convert into an equaliser.
Once back on the ice though it was Carr who levelled things up after 28mins 52secs from Milan Baranyk and Scott.
James Galazzi was the next player to warm the penalty bench for high sticks but the scoreline remained 2-2 at the end of the two minute powerplay – indeed it remained that way at the second break.
Lightning took the lead for the first time in the game when Baranyk and Tom Carlon began the move which saw Carr double his tally for the night at 47mins 19secs, after some good play behind the net.
Baranyk claimed his third assist of the game – Jordan Cownie taking the other assist – as Michael Farn put Lightning further in front after 54mins 12secs with a fierce slapshot from out on the left which went past an unsighted Mettam.
Bees called a timeout with 1min 33secs left and took off Mettam to allow them an extra outskater. The move backfired when Cownie took possession and advanced up the left hand side before firing into the empty net to make it 5-2 just 20 seconds later.
There was no way back for Bees after that – the result meaning that Lightning closed the gap on Telford Tigers at the top of the league by two points.
Man of the Match: Michael Farn (D)
Report: Paul Brookman