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PREVIEW: Lightning v Coventry Blaze (7pm Sat 11 Nov)

Scott Wiggins

This coming Saturday at 7pm it’s derby day at Planet Ice – as the Smith Recycling MK Lightning host Coventry Blaze in a fiercely-contested Patton Conference fixture (11 Nov, face off 7.00pm).

Image: Scott Wiggins

The two sides faced each other last Sunday at the Coventry Skydome but it was a frustrating visit for Lightning, leaving on the wrong end of a 5-3 scoreline.  Blaze struck first but Kevin King equalised less than 20 seconds later – only for the hosts to then score another three goals in less than four minutes to put Coach Russell’s team on the back foot.  Captain King scored again just before the first break, and new signing Tommy Mele scored the only goal of the middle stanza, but when netminder Miika Wiikman was withdrawn for an extra skater advantage, Coventry seized on a loose puck with 13 seconds left, to score an empty net goal that put the result beyond doubt.

“I set the guys up wrong – my error,” reflected Head Coach, Pete Russell.  “The guys are working so hard and everyone’s still so together.  I want to be there for them so they can just go out and play, and give everything in every game – which they have been.  We’re already focusing on our bounceback next weekend!”

Image: Scott Wiggins

Coventry Coach, Danny Stewart was happy with the win but not his team’s overall performance: “We didn’t make smart

decisions. We lost a lot of momentum with turnovers. That was the most stressful game I’ve coached. We didn’t play good hockey in the second and third periods – we did the opposite to what I wanted the guys to do.”

Last time Blaze set foot on Milton Keynes ice, the result went Lightning’s way with a 5-1 home win.  Coach Russell’s side was three goals to the good before the Blaze responded close to the end of the second period with a Luke Ferrara power play strike.  But the final period belonged to the Lightning, with Gui Doucet and Denny Kearney adding to the tally.

Like last Sunday’s encounter, October’s win was a feisty affair, referee Pering handing out no less than 79 penalty minutes in total for 19 different infractions.

Image: Scott Wiggins

Lightning’s team captain, Kevin King, leads the way for league goals for the team with 9 scored – he is currently the EIHL’s equal 5th highest goalscorer.  Denny Kearney and Paul Phillips are proving adept playmakers – Kearney has scored in every one of the team’s last 5 fixtures.  Phillips is equal third highest points scoring defenceman in the whole league.

Coventry’s Marc-Olivier Vallerand tops the scoring table for the visitors, with 12 league goals in 14 fixtures – almost double the number of goals of any of his team mates and this makes him the equal top scorer in the league currently.  Defenceman Dax Lauwers and Danick Paquette are making names for themselves on the feistiness front – two of the players with the most penalty points in the league so far this season.

Tickets for Saturday’s fixture are on sale from the Planet Ice Box Office – buy in person, by phone at 01908 540020 or online at  Doors open for the match at 6pm Saturday and the puck drops at 7pm.
Can’t make the game?  Watch the webcast!