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Preview: MK Lightning v Coventry Blaze (7pm, Sat 14 Oct)

Scott Wiggins

When the Smith Recycling MK Lightning take on the Coventry Blaze at Planet Ice this Saturday, they’ll be aiming for another two points to keep them at the top of Challenge Cup Group C – and further extend their unbeaten home run.

Last time Coach Russell’s Lightning faced Coach Stewart’s Blaze, at the Skydome, it was MKL who took a resounding 7-4 road win.  Goals from Kevin King, Gui Doucet, Ludwig Karlsson, Denny Kearney (3) and Lewis Hook saw the travelling team 4-1 up after the first period alone, stretching their legs further as the match progressed.

Lightning sit comfortably at the top of Challenge Cup Group C with three wins from four matches played, whilst the Blaze are the group’s anchor team – having played just two Cup fixtures so far but lost both.

Denny Kearney scored 3 of MKL’s 7 goals in last month’s 7-4 win at the Skydome. (Image: Scott Wiggins)

In the League however, Blaze are third from top with eight points, bettered only by Manchester Storm and Sheffield Steelers.  With one less league game under their belt, MKL are in eighth place with six points.  Wins next weekend on the team’s Scottish away triple header will be vital, with Fife Flyers and Braehead Clan right behind them in the table and within catching distance.

Last weekend Coach Russell’s men went into their home game against Manchester Storm short benched through injuries and suspensions, but joined by young British defenceman Sam Godfrey – released by rivals Guildford Flames just days earlier.  Against expectations but to the delight of a fiercely partisan home support, MK recovered from a two goal deficit to beat the league leaders 3-2.

But 24 hours later the Storm took their revenge in Altrincham, sending the Lightning home on the wrong end of a six goal shutout.

The Blaze also had a mixed weekend – losing 4-5 against Guildford Flames on Saturday, but beating the Belfast Giants 6-1 at home a day later.  Coach Stewart said his side lacked focus in away games, saying: “We must play smarter, especially on the road. Our discipline needs to be better.”

Image: Scott Wiggins

Denny Kearney leads the way for Lightning in scoring with 5 challenge cup goals and 3 assists, followed closely by Guillaume Doucet with 4 goals and 3 assists; Denny scored the game winning goal when we beat Blaze 7-4 last month in the Cup and also in the 5-2 win against Cardiff a day before.  Whilst Francis Verreault-Paul has yet to find the back of the net, he’s proved himself a regular thorn in the opposition’s side, with no fewer than 7 assists from just 3 Cup games.

Blaze have only played two Cup games, Brett Robinson and Jordan Pietrus accounting for 5 of the side’s 8 goals so far in the competition – the same players also proving the most productive in terms of overall assists.

Because Saturday’s game is a Challenge Cup fixture we want you to PINK THE RINK: the team will be wearing their limited edition pink Cup jerseys and you can back them by wearing pink too! Our pink hoodies will be on sale at the Supporters’ Club stand but whatever you do just wear pink!

Tickets are on sale now at mk-lightning.co.uk/tickets, by phoning 01908 540020 or simply buy in person from the Planet Ice box office, 7 days a week.