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Lightning Victorious Against Coventry in OT

Melissa Dickens

A super top-shelf Paul Phillips goal gave Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning sweet revenge with a 5-4 overtime win over Coventry Blaze at MK Arena on Saturday.

After losing at Coventry the previous Sunday the hosts were looking put that defeat quickly behind them. They did so but it was a close run thing with neither side able to forge out a win in regulation time – and indeed Blaze often looked the more likely to take the points after equalising in the second period.

Lightning went in front on 6mins 18secs following a clever piece of work from Ludwig Karlsson who, despite facing away from goal, managed to feed the puck to Tommy Mele behind him to put away past goalie Kevin Nastiuk.

A couple of minutes later Guillaume Doucet and Francis Verreault-Paul almost combined to defeat Nastiuk again – this time without success.

On a day when the country remembered its victims of war at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month there was something uncanny about Lightning’s second goal scored on the powerplay by Doucet 11 seconds after Garrett Ladd was penalised for Blaze for delaying the game at 11mins 11secs.

The two goal gap didn’t last long as Blaze issued a swift reply when Ryan Dingle rifled in at the right hand post on 12mins 47secs.

When Phillips was consigned to the cooler for holding in the 14th minute Gaelan Patterson had Blaze’s best chance on the powerplay but they were kept at bay.

Lightning went close to adding to their total when Karlsson and Mele put pressure on the visiting net – referee Tom Darnell consulting a video replay before ruling the puck had not crossed the line.

There was another powerplay opportunity for Pete Russell’s men early in the middle session when Kevin Noble was called for roughing – Doucet going the closest without success.

And they had another man advantage when Darnell judged Nastiuk had delayed play by dislodging his net – the powerplay producing nothing of note for the home outfit.

As the period went on Blaze started to turn up the heat with man of the match Danick Paquette, Dax Lauwers and Noble all testing goalie Miika Wiikman without success.

It was a slashing penalty on Mele that eventually proved decisive – Marc Olivier-Vallerand setting up Paquette to grab the leveller after 36mins 7secs.

 

Towards the end of the session both Phillips and Verreault-Paul both threatened but Lightning could not find the go ahead goal again.

The start of the third saw Blaze on top with David Clements, Vallerand and Adam Courchaine all putting Wiikman to the test – sandwiched in between was a worthwhile Karlsson effort.

Courchaine and Vallerand were involved when Coventry edged in front through Patterson on 47mins 27secs.

The response from Lightning was swift – Carl Hudson making the supply for captain Kevin King to register after 48mins 7secs.

Once more Blaze took the lead when Lauwers’ blue line blast rebounded off Wiikman to finally reach Jordan Pietrus who made it 4-3 at 54mins 52secs.

Yet again Lightning hit back – this time even more quickly – just seven seconds later and again it was King on the mark with Mele and Hudson also involved.

That sent the game into overtime – Lightning having a minor scare when Blaze thought they had puck in the net. Darnell rightly decided that the puck was buried under Wiikman’s body without having crossing the line.

Lightning finally sealed the points when Phillips found space to break up the ice and fire high into the net after 63mins 33secs to send the home fans into raptures as he secured a 5-4 victory.

Man of the match: Kevin King.

By Paul Brookman