By Paul Brookman
Sheffield Steelers gained quick revenge on Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning with four third period goals to win 5-2 at Planet Ice on Sunday.
Tired legs undoubtedly played a part in the Lightning loss as Steelers piled on the pressure to outshoot the hosts 22-9 in the last stanza.
With Martin Mazanec ruled out through suspension and Nelson Armstrong still to arrive the home outfit were down to three defencemen so forwards Cole Shudra and Trevor Morbeck were moved back.
That left the forward lines slightly short of being able to ice three full strength combinations – MK Thunder’s Rio Grinell-Parke drafted in to boost the numbers against a Steelers outfit that had enough firepower to play four lines.
Early on there was little to choose between the teams and indeed it was Lightning who went in front on the powerplay at 8mins 32secs – Eric Neiley registering against his old team at the left post while David Phillips – back from a one game suspension – was in the cooler on a roughing call. The assists went to Tim Wallace and Michael Fine.
Soon after Joonas Huovinen went close as the hosts sought to double their advantage – his effort stopped by goalie Jackson Whistle.
Ryan Martinelli was penalised for holding Neiley on 13mins 6secs while he was racing in on goal but Georgs Golovkovs shot was the only attempt of note on the man advantage.
MK netminder Patrick Killeen produced a fine save to thwart Evan McGrath before Wallace was sin binned for tripping in the 16th minute – giving Steelers a powerplay from which they were able to square things up as Jordan Owens was provider for McGrath to register at 17mins 21secs.
Lightning survived a five on three short-handed spell resulting from penalties on Shudra and Ryan Lannon – Steelers advantage spilling over into a second session which saw plenty of opportunities for both sides but no further goals.
Killleen pulled off a number of impressive stops while nothing the team could produce beat Whistle at the other end – an Andreas Valdix shot which was deflected high and wide and a behind the net pass from David Norris to Radek Meidl, also off target, being among the best chances late on.
Steelers went in front for the first time on 41mins 42secs while James Griffin was in the box for hooking – Killeen saved the first shot but could not keep out Josh Pitt’s follow up. There was a swift response though from the hosts when Norris scored unassisted 14 seconds later.
Once more Sheffield retook the lead on 44mins 9secs with a delayed penalty goal – the tripping call on Lannon – as Pitt bagged his second goal. This time there was no big reply from MK and Steelers went further ahead at 49mins 16secs when McGrath won possession and found himself in plenty of space to shoot past Killeen.
Clay Anderson had a couple of worthwhile long range blasts while Pitt was in the penalty box for diving but little else troubled Whistle.
It was Pitt who sealed the 5-2 win with a shot which went through Killeen’s legs to complete his hat-trick with 3mins 9secs remaining – Steelers enjoying a powerplay after Lannon had been called for slashing. Lightning could find no last response to disturb Sheffield’s joy.
Man of the match: David Norris.
NEXT HOME GAME: We return to our usual Saturday slot with a home fixture against the Coventry Blaze on 15 September – doors 6pm and the puck drops at 7pm – buy your ticket on the door or in advance at mk-lightning.co.uk/tickets. Alternatively call us on 01908 540020!