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Overtime heartbreak ruined Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning’s hopes of taking maximum points at Basingstoke Bison on Saturday buy they left with a well deserved, gutsy point from a venue which a lot of teams leave empty handed.
After taking a first period lead Lightning fell behind late on in the session and, after a goalless middle 20 minutes they matched their opponents shot for shot to draw level with just over ten minutes of regulation time left. But with 1min 49secs of the extra period gone Bison player-coach Ashley Tait supplied Adam Harding for the shot which sealed the points for the fourth in the league side, leaving Lightning with just the one point for their efforts.
Both netminders – Brandon Stones for Lightning and Daniel Weller-Evans for Bison – received the man of the match awards in a game in which Ari Närhi tested the home goalie early on without success. Bison drew the first penalty of the night – just one of three they incurred – when Hallam Wilson was sin binned for hooking after 5mins 41secs. Although Tom Carlon went close, the hosts’ penalty kill units were able to see off the two minutes short-handed spell.
When the first goal came it was with both teams at even strength – Rio Grinell-Parke gaining the assist when Carlon beat Weller-Evans on 11mins 12secs. However just over a minute later MK’s Logan Prince was sent to the cooler for holding and it was to prove costly with Bison scoring a scrambled goal on the powerplay through Alexander Sampford at 14mins 28secs. Närhi threatened late in the period but saw his effort well saved before another tussle in front of goal saw Bison edge ahead seven seconds from the first break thanks to George Norcliffe, aided by Sampford.
There was no joy on the powerplay for the visitors when Joshua Kelly was handed two minutes for tripping early on in the second period. That came ahead of a series of penalties on Lightning players: Lewis Christie (twice for tripping), Jordan Stokes for hooking, Ross Green 12 minutes for boarding and Carlon for roughing. The net result was no further goals with some fine penalty killing on the latter two calls.
And there was no change to the scoreline when Adam Jones was sidelined for hooking with 1min 23secs of the middle period remaining.
At 2-1 to Bison there was still all to play for going into the final stretch. However MK were soon hampered by a 41st minute call on Cale Tanaka for tripping. Having seen the short-handed spell off they gave the travelling fans hope for an upset when Närhi went one on one with Weller-Evans , producing a great finish to equalise on 49mins 49secs.
With both sides desperate to secure the points in normal time the netminders came under pressure – all without consequence. Eventually overtime settled the issue with Harding’s goal just over one and a half minutes into the session.
Man of the match: Brandon Stones.