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Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning had another great pre-season workout last night, this time at Hull Arena where they were pipped in a 3-2 scoreline from which there was much to be optimistic about.
Goalie Brandon Stones deservedly picked up the man of the match award for his sterling work in between the pipes – turning away all but a trio of 64 shots on goal. The hosts were held at bay for more than half the game despite outshooting Lightning 20-5 in the first session – Peter Fabus having an early missed chance before MKL picked up a too many men on the ice penalty at the same time as Lee Haywood was sin binned for tripping, both calls timed at 3min 10secs.
Grant McPherson drew a save from Ashley Smith before Bobby Chamberlain fired past the post ahead of both teams being reduced to four skaters again as Rio Grinell-Parke was called for holding the stick and Lee Bonner for cross-checking at 7mins 52secs. There were penalties on both sides again on 17mins 43secs when Matty Davies and Tomas Kana were both sent to the coolers for roughing. And despite all that the score remained 0-0 at the first break with Stones excelling under pressure.
It was much the same in the early minutes of the second session after a blue liner from Kana was blocked before Stones did the same thing to a Pirates shot from similar distance. Hull went very close to scoring with a looping effort following a couple of deflections ahead of having a ‘goal’ washed out. MKL then went close with Harry Ferguson’s wrap around effort almost catching Smith out.
The home outfit eventually got their breakthrough on 32mins 54secs following pressure for Pirates which resulted in Oleg Sislannikovs supplying player coach Jason Hewitt to finally defeat Stones. But it was short lived. Before the second break Lightning were able to level thanks to some determined work from Brodie Jesson, aided by Grinell-Parke at 36mins 39secs. Lightning were outshot in the second period to the tune of 21-10 but more importantly they were all square on the scoreboard.
Hull edged in front again at the start of the third period with Sislannikovs setting up Chamberlain within 42 seconds of the restart. Cale Tanaka was next to visit the penalty box after being called for cross checking on 44mins 27secs but that did not stop MKL from venturing forward and scoring a short-handed equaliser by the super-cool Ari Närhi with a superb wrap around goal at 45mins 31secs.
MKL were unable to capitalise on a powerplay resulting from a tripping penalty on Jonathan Kirk. Then Hull hit the net when Davies made the supply for Kevin Phillips on 52mins 19secs. Pirates then sought to turn up the pressure on MKL but there was no way through again while Närhi showed great form in beating three Pirates players on his way to a shot which was pushed away by Smith.
With 25 seconds Stones was withdrawn for the extra skater but to no avail with Pirates staying in front by the odd goal.
This has been a pre-season characterised by effort, heart, determination and improvement as the boys have spent more time together on the ice. For a brand new team to pull together in this way is a good sign of things to some, so get yourself down do our first league game on Saturday. Tickets available here.
Man of the match: Brandon Stones.