A dramatic conclusion saw Smith Recycling MK Lightning complete a four point weekend for only the second time in six seasons at Guildford Flames on Sunday.
After Lightning established a 4-1 lead with less than a quarter of an hour remaining Flames fought back to level the tallies with 1min 38secs of regulation time left.
But it was last laugh to the visitors when Bobby Chamberlain put paid to the hosts’ fightback with the winner 1min 6secs into overtime to ensure Lightning are in the leading group following the first round of English Premier League games.
There was little to suggest such a final flourish in the first period though with MK opening the evening’s scoring on 6mins 9secs when Blaz Emersic and Craig Scott had a hand in Frankie Bakrlik’s goal.
Seconds later Mikolaj Lopuski was penalised for hooking but the visitors snuffed out the danger and even had a shorthanded break with Hook and Emersic going on the attack – the Brit’s shot being blocked by goalie Richard Ullberg.
It was a second Lightning penalty – this time Michael Farn being called for interference that led to Flames equalising through Jez Lundin – assisted by Matic Kralj and Danny Meyers on 16mins 21secs.
With no further goals before the break the teams were all square at one each – the shots on goal also level at 11 apiece. However it was a vastly different story in the second session with Flames managing a miserly two on goalie Przemy Odrobny while his opposite number faced 13.
Despite that Flames goal remained intact with Ullberg blocking Emersic and then Lewis Christie early on before the home side incurred a too many men penalty, during which Sam Jones had probably the best chance with an effort blocked by the goalie.
Flames’ wayward shooting meant they could make no headway – new import Marek Maslonka had power behind his effort but it went wide and the same fate met a Marcus Kristofferson drive. In between both Emersic and Christie again pressured the home net.
Lightning finally edged ahead 3mins 53secs into the third period when Adam Carr and Ed Knaggs got the assists on Chamberlain’s strike.
Less than two minutes later Milan Baranyk and James Griffin were the suppliers for Craig Scott to beat Ullberg on 45mins 34secs.
As Lightning edged three in front through Hook, added by Emersic and Bakrlik, Flames coach Paul Dixon called a timeout.
The hosts’ fightback began under three minutes later when they were awarded a penalty shot after Tom Duggan was impeded on his race towards goal – Duggan took the shot to beat Odrobny on 49mins 3secs.
The gap was cut to one on 55mins 54secs when Kristofferson and Lundin set up Meyers and, with 1min 47secs to go, Ullberg was pulled in favour of the extra skater.
Within nine seconds the move paid off as Duggan got his second of the night to make it 4-4 and send the match into overtime which was brought to an abrupt end when Leigh Jamieson sent Chamberlain away to seal the points for Lightning.
Ironically the last time Lightning began the regular season with a four point weekend in 2013 the opponents were also Flames and Bracknell Bees.
Man of the Match: Bobby Chamberlain
Report: Paul Brookman
NEXT HOME GAME: MKL v Peterborough Phantoms – 7pm Sat 17 Sept: tickets on sale now, call 01908 540020