MK Lightning 4-2 Fife Flyers (9th Dec)
By Paul Brookman
A second period fightback from Fife Flyers was quelled as Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning finished the weekend on a high with a 4-2 win at Planet Ice on Sunday.
Lightning took a 2-0 lead with a pair of strikes by Robbie Baillargeon, only to see that wiped out when the Scots outfit hit back with two middle session goals to set up a tense final 20 minutes.
However home fans’ fears were dispelled with two more goals to put MK in the driving seat as the game went into the last ten minutes. Despite Flyers calling a timeout with just over three minutes remaining, following which they withdrew netminder Shane Owen in favour of the extra skater, they were unable to snatch a third goal.
In the early stages neither side could manage any shots of note – the first serious being Radek Meidl’s fifth minute attempt which was deflected by Owen. Paul Crowder and Rick Pinkston then threatened for Fife but goalie Patrick Killeen saw off the danger.
Lightning edged in front on 12mins 10secs after Ivan Šijan’s blast rebounded off the boards behind the Fife goal – Baillargeon on hand to sweep the puck into the net.
Just over a minute later Andreas Valdix incurred the first penalty of the game when he was called for cross checking at 13mins 31secs. Short-handed, Michael Fine had a shot saved while Flyers were unable to do any damage.
There was a different outcome though when Mike Cazzola was penalised for interference after 17mins 17secs – Baillargeon rifling the puck into the net after taking Fine’s pass from the right less than minute later on 17mins 55secs.
Lightning suffered a blow within the first couple of minutes of the start of the middle session when Cazzola scrambled the puck home in a moment of confusion in front of the Lightning net on 21mins 11secs.
A few minutes later MK had a powerplay chance as Pinkston was sin binned for illegal equipment on 25mins 35secs but they failed to take advantage, exerting little pressure with Fine going closest but taking too much time to tee up his shot.
Equally though Fife were unable to make the most of a roughing call on Ryan Lannon three minutes later – their powerplay ending prematurely when Evan Bloodoff was penalised for hooking.
Increasingly as the period went on Lightning were guilty of failing to come up with the end product when through on goal – Valdix twice and Meidl both having great opportunities, the latter shooting straight at the goalie.
The misses cost Lightning with 2mins 56secs of the period remaining – Fife levelling with Bloodoff scoring unassisted after another scramble in front of goal.
There was all to play for as the third period got under way and the decisive moment came after Jordan Buesa was sent to the cooler for slashing after 43mins 49secs. Only ten seconds later Valdix and Fine combined to punish Flyers with the go ahead goal for Lightning, the latter player the scorer.
Both teams were reduced to four skaters after Martin Mazanec and then Danick Gauthier were sin binned for interference and slashing within seconds of each other.
Tim Wallace then put daylight between the teams with an unlikely goal – Owen seemed to have stopped the puck, only for it to go through his legs after 48mins 26secs to make it 4-2 to the hosts.
They could have added to their tally in the 54th minute when Georgs Golovkovs made a superb pass forward to send Meidl away for a one on one with Owen but he couldn’t produce the telling finish.
Fife called a time out after Mazanec was sent to the penalty box for a high stick – Owen being withdrawn with exactly three minutes to go. The only shot of note for Fife on the powerplay came from Marcus Basara – Killeen blocking as Lightning remained resolute for a home victory.
Man of the match: Robbie Baillargeon (Sponsored by City Apartments)
NEXT HOME GAME: MK Lightning v Dundee Stars, 7pm Saturday 15 December at Planet Ice MK Arena - tickets at mk-lightning.co.uk/tickets or call 01908 540020