Jordan Cownie bagged a hat-trick and Milan Baranyk a brace of goals to send Smith Recycling MK Lightning into the final of the English Premier League Cup for the first time in three years at MK Arena on Wednesday.
In a devastating performance Lightning crushed Hull Pirates 8-2 in the second leg of the semi-final – having won the first tie on Humberside six days earlier 4-1 with goals by Craig Scott (two), Cownie and Lewis Hook.
Hull needed to win the game in regulation time to have a chance of qualifying with an overtime goal or penalty shoot-out success. But there was little chance of that once the hosts got to work in the second period.
The visitors gave a debut to new import netminder, Vlastimil Lakosil, who had replaced axed former MK stopper, Jordan Marr, earlier in the week. But he endured a nightmare first game.
Lightning heavily outshot Pirates in the first session but only had Cownie’s opening goal on 8mins 52secs to show for it. It was against the run of play when Hull grabbed an equaliser through an unassisted Lee Bonner strike 1min 21secs from the break.
James Griffin set up Cownie to skate in from the right and round new Lakosil to opening the scoring after 8mins 52secs for a well taken goal.
Before Lightning broke the deadlock they had already created numerous opportunities as Frankie Bakrlik tested the goalie from the left in the first minute before Cownie had a good effort pushed away by the stopper.
MK netminder Przemy Odrobny was called to action to pull off a good save from Ryan Watt in the second minute.
Hull threatened again when Andrej Themar unleashed a fierce shot which was well blocked by Odrobny.
The first penalty of the game went to Pirates after Lee Haywood was called for hooking – however it was Hull who went closest short-handed with Tommi Laine supplying Marcus Maynard for a shot which was awkward to save for Odrobny.
It was against the run of play when Hull grabbed an equaliser through an unassisted Lee Bonner strike 1min 21secs from the break.
But parity didn’t last long as Milan Baranyk fed captain Adam Carr at the left post to poke the puck in just 2mins 42secs into the middle stanza.
A series of penalties on both sides – two for Lightning and one for Hull – had no effect on the scoreline.
Back at even strength Lightning extended their lead seconds after Hook had given up the puck to Themar. He tried to dummy Odrobny but the Polish stopper snuffed out the attempt.
The home side immediately went on the counter-attack and Michael Farn supplied Cownie to shoot high to the right of Lakosil at 32mins 9secs. It was Lightning, not Hull, who called an immediate timeout.
That was the end of the middle period goals but it was definitely Lightning on top – Tom Carlon going close right in front of the goal and Cownie setting up Hook who saw his shot blocked late on.
Hull had brief hope when referee Matt Thompson failed to stop play after Odrobny made a save from Themar, dropping the puck a second or two later, and Bonner swept up at 42mins 9secs.
However that was quickly cancelled out by Cownie’s hat-trick goal 43 seconds later – the Scot following up after Hook’s shot was blocked.
Pirates were penalised for having too many men on the ice in the 45th minute and on the powerplay Craig Scott was able to find Baranyk to beat Lakosil for a fifth time.
Things went from bad to worse for Hull when Glenn Billing had his shot blocked by the goalie but was able to take the rebound and fire it high into the goal on 47mins 36secs.
Even a powerplay after Antti Hölli was called for elbows in the 54th minute failed to give Hull any joy and back at even strength Hölli made amends by supplying Scott from the right for the seventh at 56mins 44secs.
Baranyk rounded off with the eighth goal on 58mins 31secs to put MK firmly into the final.
Man of the Match: Jordan Cownie
Report: Paul Brookman