Match Reports are brought to you in association with A2B Airport Transfers
A super James Griffin goal 1min 29secs into overtime sealed another fantastic four point weekend for Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning at Basingstoke Bison on Sunday.
The 3-2 win completed a weekend double over the Hampshire effort, yet Lightning were just 31 seconds from defeat when Liam Stewart scored the equalising goal after goalie Jordan Lawday was pulled for the extra skater.
It means Lightning are edging ever closer to the middle pack in the National Ice Hockey League – three points behind Sheffield Steeldogs who occupy sixth spot and six adrift of Hull Pirates in fourth. A month ago fourth place would have seemed an impossible target but having taken 14 points out the last 16 it now looks a realistic goal for MK.
After a goal-less first period in which Lightning were forced to defend two spells short-handed, Griffin called for cross-checking and then Leigh Jamieson was given 12 minutes for a check to the head, it was Bison who opened the scoring on 22mins 54secs through Sean Norris, aided by Ashley Tait and Michal Klejna. This time MK had two players in the penalty box following a roughing call on Tomas Kana followed by a delay of the game penalty on Jordan Stokes.
Bison saw off a 25th minute high stick penalty handed to Tom Ralph and an interference assessment for Sam Smith after 27mins 34secs – the latter seeing Stewart fire narrowly wide.
Lightning levelled after 29mins 47secs when Stokes made amends for the earlier penalty with a great blue line blast to beat netminder Alex Mettam – the assists going to Kana and Cale Tanaka. It was his first goal in Lightning colours.
Adam Harding put Bison back in front on 33mins 24secs after being supplied by Alex Sampford and Oliver Stone before Tanaka had the puck in the net only to have the ‘goal’ washed out for goalie interference.
As the third period progressed it was Lightning who were asking all the questions and looking more likely to score, although there was a brief interlude when Griffin went toe to toe with Liam Morris, winning the battle but earning four minutes in the cooler for fighting. His opponent received the same punishment.
Lightning’s pressure seemed to be paying off with both Stewart and Robin Kovar denied by Mettam and Stewart firing high before Lawday was replaced by the extra skater in the final 60 seconds of regulation time. That was the trigger for Stewart to grab the equaliser with 30.6 seconds left on the clock.
The travelling fans’ joy was completed when Griffin breached the Bison goal just 1min 29secs into the extra period to make it 3-2 to MK.
Man of the match: Jordan Lawday.
Photo: Andy Watkins (probably)