The Smith Recycling MK Lightning eased to a convincing 8-2 victory over Bracknell Bees in a game where they were never really stretched at MK Arena on Saturday.
Lightning took control of the game early on with Bracknell unable to offer much in the way of offence and former MK stopper Alex Mettam being the busier of the two netminders.
However Baranyk was able to return to the proceedings – much to the relief of Lightning who started the encounter without the injured Adam Carr. But the team did welcome back Jordan Cownie for his first competitive game of the season.
In the ensuing minutes it was mostly MK doing all the pressing – Frankie Bakrlik almost beating Mettam ahead of Lewis Hook going close. Bees’ only threat came from their veteran coach Lukas Smital but goalie Przemy Odrobny was able to deal with the shot.
Hook was in the thick of it a few minutes later with Mettam saving with his arm and seconds later Michael Farn nearly sent him away – unfortunately he just failed to make the connection with the puck.
It was no surprise then that Bees eventually cracked when Bobby Chamberlain and Glenn Billing had a hand as James Griffin put the final shot past Mettam for the opening goal on 8mins 14secs.
Goal number two came after 11mins 23secs when Tom Carlon fed Baranyk who sped up the left and back-sticked the puck past the goalie.
There was a brief moment of concern at the other end of the ice when Bees’ recent signing Olegs Lascenko fired in a shot which was not held by Odrobny – the puck running loose for a second or two.
Scott Spearing was the first player of the evening to visit the sin bin when he was called for slashing Chamberlain but the resulting powerplay produced few opportunities for MK.
David Gaborcik ended the first session in the sin bin and it was to cost Bees in the opening couple of minutes of the following period when Farn blasted in from the blue line and the ever alert Baranyk redirected the puck past Mettam on 21mins 6secs.
Bees had no time to recover before Cownie supplied Chamberlain to fire in 20 seconds later while Mettam was completely out of position.
Farn, Jones and Griffin all had chances while Matt Foord was serving time for interference in the 26th minute but Mettam kept Lightning at bay.
MK seemed to have made it 5-0 in the 29th minute but referee Kevin Ward ruled that Tom Carlon had kicked the puck in.
Bees failed to make the most of a powerplay opportunity when Lewis Christie was sin binned for interference in the final 90 seconds of the middle stanza – Odrobny having virtually nothing to do.
Back at even strength Bakrlik was the provider for Hook who was allowed to skate around the Bees defence before slotting home for MK’s sixth goal on 43mins 46secs.
Nothing came of a tripping call on Bakrlik but Bees got off the mark after 47mins 58secs when Odrobny was eventually beaten by Alex Barker. With his chance of a shut-out gone that signalled the end of the goalie’s duties as he was replaced by Jordan Hedley.
But Lightning were not finished – Chamberlain grabbing his second of the night from Cownie’s behind the net pass at 47mins 58secs.
The gap was again reduced though as MK failed to clear their lines, allowing Luka Basic to net Bees’ only other goal after 55mins 35secs.
Cownie, showing remarkable form for a player having been injured for several weeks, rounded off Lightning’s tally with a well taken strike 4mins 25secs from the buzzer.
But that was not the end of the action – Bakrlik squaring up with James Galazzi in the last 44secs and earning four minutes for fighting and two minutes for holding while his opponent was given four minutes for fighting.
Lightning will not have many easier games this season in their quest for silverware.
MKL Man of the Match: Milan Baranyk
Report: Paul Brookman