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REPORT: Tigers 3-1 MKL (19 March)

Telford Tigers made it five wins out of six against Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning in the final league game of the season.

With nothing to play for except perhaps momentum going into the championship play-offs, title winners Tigers took a three goal lead before Lightning, already confirmed as runners-up, hit back with a late powerplay strike for a 3-1 final score.

Coach Pete Russell was probably not too concerned at the loss which followed the highs of the celebrations at claiming the English Premier League Cup for the first time the previous evening while many fans were possibly relieved that the margin of victory was not greater.

First choice netminder Przemy Odrobny and two goal hero of the cup final win, Antti Hölli, were both rested with young Jordan Hedley given a start between the pipes while Milan Baranyk returned to the line-up. Despite that it meant MK were playing with an import short while Tigers were at full strength.

Telford quickly established a one goal lead as Rick Plant and Milan Kolena had a hand in Jason Silverthorn’s opener after 3mins 10secs.

But Lightning showed they were not in the mood for conceding defeat easily with two shots hitting the post and Leigh Jamieson firing wide of target in the first few minutes. Hedley then prevented a further Tigers advance with a stop from Plant in the 12th minute.

Both teams were reduced to four skaters in the 16th minute as Tigers’ Jonathan Weaver was called for roughing, quickly followed seconds later by Blaz Emersic for tripping. Neither penalty had any impact on the score which remained 1-0 to the hosts at the first break.

Telford were denied by Hedley with a save from Doug Clarkson early in the middle session and then held out when Corey Goodison was penalised for cross-checking in the 26th minute.

Jamieson was then sin binned for tripping and although MK remained solid during the short-handed spell they could not prevent Tigers from doubling their advantage when back at full strength – Corey McEwen setting up Kolena on 32mins 21secs.

Lightning’s task became almost impossible on 38mins 21secs when the gap became three goals after Plant, assisted by Sam Zajac and Silverthorn, defeated Hedley – the score 3-0 at the second interval.

There was no joy for Lightning on the powerplay in the 44th minute as Matt Davies was consigned to the cooler for tripping.

A further penalty on Danny Rose for interference and abuse of an official prompted a Lightning timeout.

That provided the breakthrough to ensure MK were not shut-out completely as Lewis Hook and Frankie Bakrlik were the providers for Mikolaj Lopuski to register at 52mins 18secs.

There was still some defending to do for the travellers and they had to do so a man short when Tom Carlon visited the penalty box for hooking in the 55th minute. Once more though Tigers were held at bay with the final tally 3-1 to the home side.

Man of the Match : Ed Knaggs

Report: Paul Brookman