Two late Peterborough Phantoms goals left short-benched Lightning with work to do in the second leg of the annual Ashes Trophy at Bretton, as they went down 4-1 at home.
Already without Poles Przemy Odroby and Mikolaj Lopuski, plus the injured Tom Carlon, the hosts also started Saturday’s first leg at MK Arena without Jordan Cownie, ruled out with a lower body injury.
Despite that Lightning edged the first period – their confidence given a boost by the razor sharp Craig Scott who seized on the puck to score after Frankie Bakrlik had fired wide – only for the shot to rebound off the back boards after 12 mins 39secs.
There had been an earlier scare for the home side while Bobby Chamberlain was serving two minutes for boarding on 2mins 28secs. New Peterborough import Petr Stepanek fed Ales Padelek on the blue line and his blast hit the inside of the top of the goal and came down for what appeared to be the opening goal. However referee Stefan Hogarth ruled the effort out because Phantoms had too many imports on the ice – in addition to Padelek and Stepanek, Darius Pliskauskas was on the powerplay line, together with goalie Janis Auzins. Only three are allowed at any one time.
The infringement also cost Peterborough a two minute penalty but Lightning were unable to capitalise with the extra man.
Adam Carr went close while Phantoms’ Connor Glossop was serving time for hooking before Marc Levers broke away to test MK’s goalie, Jordan Hedley.
Following Scott’s first goal for Lightning the hosts had the upper hand for most of the remainder of the period -Bakrlik blasting wide, Scott having an effort saved while Blaz Emersic and Michael Farn both saw their attempts stopped by Auzins.
Phantoms had a couple of efforts through Padelek and Pliskauskas as the session drew to a close but MK’s goal remained intact.
If MK were in the ascendancy in the opening 20 minutes then the next period saw a somewhat different game with Phantoms restoring the balance of play.
The session was just 40 seconds old when The visitors’ Scott Robson was penalised for holding. On the powerplay Carr had an effort pushed over the bar while Adam Jones’ shot was saved by Auzins’ legs.
Mario Uhrik got Phantoms back in the encounter on 24mins 17secs when he was fed by James Archer for a shot from the left which beat Hedley.
In the final five minutes Phantoms’ Stepanek was sin binned for elbows but MK were unable to break through with the extra man.
Stepanek then made Lightning pay on his return to the ice by putting his side ahead with a long range shot to score on 38mins 18secs – giving Phantoms a 2-1 lead at the second break.
Bakrlik was back in the sin bin for holding within the first two minutes of the third period. With a man advantage Peterborough pressed but were kept at bay by some tight defending.
A double powerplay for Lightning came when Tom Stubley and Stepanek were both in the penalty box for holding androughing respectively. But the five on three advantage was quickly reduced to four on three when Bakrlik was penalised for interference.
Then with 2mins 38secs to go Stepanek set up Pliskauskas for a shot which defeated Hedley to make it 4-1 to the visitors.
Coach Pete Russell may be using the pre-season games to find his best line combinations but he could have well done without the absences of Carlon and Cownie in addition to those of Odrobny and Lopuski, on duty with the Poland national team in Olympic qualifiers.
Man of the Match: Milan Baranyk
Report: Paul Brookman
Next home game: MK Lightning v Bracknell Bees – Planet Ice Milton Keynes, 7pm Saturday 3 September.
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