It’s not over until the fat lady sings – so the old saying goes. And the expression could not have been more apt when Sheffield Steeldogs threatened to undo all Smith Recycling MK Lightning’s good work at MK Arena on Saturday.
Leading 3-0 with less than a quarter of an hour to go, Lightning looked to be cruising to a comfortable victory – indeed the scoreline did not reflect their dominance.
But a series of penalties against the home side – three out of the four against defencemen – turned the game on its head and gave Steeldogs their chance. They took it with open arms, eventually drawing level with 47 seconds of regulation time remaining.
That sent the game into sudden death overtime and it took Lewis Hook, ably supplied from the left by Jordan Cownie, just 44 seconds to reduce home fans’ blood pressure with the goal to seal a 4-3 win.
Nevertheless Lightning supporters were left wondering just how their team were taken to the brink in an encounter they dominated for 50 minutes and should have led by a bigger margin than the three goals.
One young fan was heard to say towards the end of the second session: “Lightning should be 7-0 up.” He was not wrong.
Lightning totally dominated the first period – the only surprise being the fact that they only managed to beat netminder James Hadfield twice.
For substantial periods Sheffield were reduced to firing in long range shots on goalie Przemy Odrobny.
The pressure was virtually relentless in the following minutes with Cownie making the pass to Hook who just failed to connect before Frankie Bakrlik put Bobby Chamberlain on an unsuccessful breakaway.
Lightning found themselves short-handed when Baranyk was called for slashing Hadfield at 6mins 7secs.
Even then Steeldogs could make no impression with the extra skater – the home penalty kill units forcing the play high into the neutral zone.
Lewis Bell did give Odrobny some work to do with as he shot weakly from the right – the goalie making an easy save.
Hadfield then blocked a fine Carlon shot before getting his body in the way of a Bakrlik blast. There were further attempts by Carlon and Baranyk but still the score remained 1-0.
That changed though with Chamberlain the supplier for Bakrlik to unleash a powerblast from just inside the blue line on the left – the shot giving Hadfield no chance as it pinged off the metalwork for goal number two on 19mins 26secs.
Pete Russell’s men carried on where they left off in the second period after Pavel Mrna produced an early shot which Odrobny saved with his glove. Cownie found Ed Knaggs venturing forward but he was unable to connect and then a Blaz Emersic shot was blocked by the goalie.
When Carlon was penalised for tripping in the 25th minute Ben Morgan came up with a blue liner which Odrobny dealt with, while back at full strength captain Adam Carr was denied by the goalie.
Lightning went close while on the powerplay after Donatas Kumeliauskas was sin binned for hooking during a major scramble in front of the net. However the puck stayed out.
With the teams back at even strength the pressure on Steeldogs continued so it was little surprise when Carlon was involved in setting up Sam Jones for the third goal on 36mins 15secs. That should have been enough to secure the
But things started to go horribly wrong after Baranyk was given two minutes in the cooler for holding on 45mins 54secs. With 22 seconds Arnoldas Bosas put Kumeliauskas in the right spot for a shot from the right which eluded Odrobny to make it 3-1.
The hosts were in penalty trouble again on 50mins 25secs as Michael Farn was called for slashing and 32 seconds later Jones was handed a five plus game penalty for a high stick – meaning MK were down to three out skaters.
Farn’s penalty hardly had time to expire before Kumeliauskas shot high into the net from the left at 52mins 32secs.
Leigh Jamieson was next in the penalty box at 52mins 40secs. Lightning survived that short-handed spell and could have sealed the game when Bakrlik went close in the 57th minute.
With less than a minute to go MK were holding on – until Mrna snatched the equaliser with 47 seconds left.
Could Sheffield go on to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat? The answer was no thanks to Hook’s overtime winner which brought sighs of relief to the home faithful.
Man of the Match: #90 Przemyslaw Odrobny
Report: Paul Brookman