The Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning were given a tough run out in their opening game of the season as they ended up on the wrong end of a 4-2 scoreline at MK Arena.
It really was a case of being in at the deep end for Lightning who had hardly trained together – new Polish imports Prezmy Odrobny and Mikolaj Lopuski only flying in for the evening six hours before the match.
In addition they were missing the returning Tom Carlon who was recovering from shoulder surgery. He hopes to be back in action in a few weeks’ time.
After a tentative first period which finished all square at a goal apiece the game came alive in the middle session with Lightning looking to be on top for the first ten minutes – taking a deserved 2-1 lead.
But an unforced error by Lopuski saw him give up the puck to Doug Clarkson. He fed Tigers man of the match, Milan Kolena, who blasted home from long range to level the tallies on 32mins 59secs.
That only served to spur on the visitors who then edged in front after 36mins 36secs when Phil Hill set up Jason Silverthorn to fire into the top left hand corner, leaving netminder Odrobny stranded.
From then on Tigers tightened their grip on the encounter and sealed the win when Marcus Heywood was involved as Adam Taylor beat Odrobny on 48mins1secs to make it 4-2.
Telford opened the scoring after 1mins 11secs as Odrobny was unable to get a grip on a Warren Tait shot which just went over the line.
Chances were few and far between for both teams in the opening minutes but Lightning were able to capitalise when Jordan Cownie fed on the advancing Sam Jones on the right. His long range powerblast rebounded off netminder Sam Gospel only for Blaz Emersic to finish off after 7mins 43secs.
There was a five on three powerplay opportunity for the hosts midway through the period after both Dan Scott and Doug Clarkson were sin binned for delaying the game and hooking respectively. However no goals ensued.
Lightning began the second period with renewed vigour and Gospel came under intense pressure in the opening minutes. Man of the match Jones shot from the right with 59 seconds of a powerplay remaining – Sam Zajac in the penalty box for roughing – before Milan Baranyk and James Griffin both had worthwhile blasts.
The hosts reward came when Griffin supplied Baranyk to fire past Gospel after 25mins 24secs to make it 2-1.
The lead lasted for almost seven minutes until Kolena got Tigers back on terms and then Silverthorn edged them in front.
There was much for coach Pete Russell to learn from – with a number of positives as the team prepares for the serious matter of their final English Premier League campaign in a couple of weeks’ time.
Man of the Match: Sam Jones
Report: Paul Brookman
Next home game: MK Lightning v Peterborough Phantoms (pre season challenge) – Planet Ice Milton Keynes, 7pm Saturday 3 September.
Tickets: www.mk-lightning.co.uk/tickets or call 01908 540020