Manchester Storm 6-5 MK Lightning (17th March)
By Paul Brookman
They have virtually no chance of being on Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning’s roster next year due to import restrictions but that did not stop Tim Wallace’s battling army from giving Manchester Storm a shock at Altrincham on Sunday.
At 6-3 in favour of the hosts with just over six minutes remaining it looked to be game over for Lightning. But try to telling that to MK’s short-staffed troops who carried on competing until the end and were rewarded with two late goals to run Storm close in a 6-5 result.
Lightning’s drop into a new tier of the National Ice Hockey League next term means they will be restricted to two imports and thus the vast majority of the current roster will be looking for new clubs.
Following coach Wallace’s ethos they set out to impress at Storm but quickly found themselves a goal behind when Storm captain Dane Byers found the net beyond Adam Goss – given the start instead of Patrick Killeen – after just 1min 4secs.
It was not long before the home side’s Luke Moffatt was called for a high stick followed by a fourth minute penalty on Robbie Baillargeon. Neither had any consequence to the score but a 10th minute call on Michael Fine allowed Storm to double their advantage when Moffatt set up Dallas Ehrhardt at 12mins 17secs.
The two teams each had a man in the penalty box – Harrison Ruopp for roughing and Wallace for tripping when Lightning were awarded an unsuccessful penalty shot.
However it was not long before they cut the deficit with Georgs Golovkovs and Nelson Armstrong involved in Baillargeon’s strike at 19mins 16secs.
Storm saw off a 29th minute penalty on Adam Barnes for a high stick before adding goal number three through Ciaran Long at 32mins 23secs.
Long then turned villain when he was sent to the cooler for holding on 43mins 5secs. That gave MK the chance to reduce the arrears as David Norris supplied Ivan Šijan for a powerplay marker with four seconds of the man advantage remaining.
Just over a minute later Manchester regained their two goal lead thanks to a Logan McMillan goal at 46mins 10secs before Ehrhardt bagged his second of the evening on 48mins 31secs.
Owen Griffiths and Trevor Morbeck were involved when Šijan doubled his tally for the night at 52mins 7secs.
McMillan was back on the scoresheet a minute and a half later with Manchester’s sixth goal at 53mins 38secs before it was down to Lightning to round off the scoring with a Fine goal after 58mins 3secs and then Armstrong got in on the act with 35 seconds to the buzzer to bring the visitors to within a goal of their hosts.
Man of the match: Ivan Šijan (sponsored by Wetherspoons Milton Keynes)