A Lewis Hook double steered Smith Recycling MK Lightning to a 3-1 success against Manchester Phoenix at Fylde Coast Ice Arena on Sunday.
The victory ensured Lightning ended the second weekend of the English Premier League campaign as one of only three teams with a faultless record – perhaps just as importantly the eight points gained also count towards EPL Cup semi-final qualification.
The only downside was that the win was witnessed by few Lightning supporters – Phoenix management advising them not to travel to Blackpool due to limitations on accommodating away fans because of lack of seating.
That did not stop Lightning from getting off to a brilliant start as Mikolaj Lopuski was set up by Milan Baranyk to score his third goal of the weekend on 2mins 5secs.
Soon after Phoenix netminder Stephen Fone was forced into saving from Craig Scoot before his MK counterpart Prezmy Odrobny was called into action. In the sixth minute he thwarted a Marek Indra effort ahead of Roman Malinik going close in the 14th minute.
But it was Lightning who held the upper hand at the end of the first session – having doubled their advantage 21 seconds before the interval when Frankie Bakrlik supplied Hook to beat Fone for a 2-0 lead.
Whatever was said in the Phoenix dressing room in the break had the desired effect as they cut the deficit within 15 seconds of the restart thanks to a goal by Joni Tuominen, assisted by Indra and Robin Kovar.
Odrobny was kept busy over the following few minutes, dealing with attempts by Tuominen among others while Edgars Bebris shot wide.
Bakrlik and Indra were consigned to the sin bin for two minutes each for hooking and diving respectively and 25 seconds later, at 25mins 53secs Michael Farn was the provider for Hook to take his tally to two and his team’s to three.
It proved to be the final goal of the game – but it was far from the end of the action with Odrobny pulling off two saves from Kovar before the end of the second period.
Phoenix’s second period pressure waned a little early in the third as both Hook and Bakrlik were both thwarted – the former’s shot going high and the latter being blocked en route to goal.
With under ten minutes to go Glenn Billing had a go before a Leigh Jamieson drive was dealt with by Fone while Lopuski unsuccessfully sought to end as he started the game. This time Fone blocked his 54th minute shot.
Despite that Lightning remained in charge to take a 3-1 victory.
Man of the Match: Lewis Hook
Report: Paul Brookman
Next home game: MK Lightning v Hull Pirates – Planet Ice Milton Keynes, 7pm Saturday 24 September.
Tickets: www.mk-lightning.co.uk/tickets or call 01908 540020