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Short- benched Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning battled hard but eventually succumbed to a last gasp overtime winner at Hull Pirates on Saturday.
It was the second consecutive defeat to the Humberside outfit but at least this time Lightning picked up a point in their quest to ensure qualification for the play-offs – the previous weekend’s loss coming in regulation time.
Liam Stewart with a slight hamstring problem was among the non-starters as well as Brandon Stones, Robin Kovar, James Griffin and Tom Carlon. That left MK with barely three lines of forwards for a game in which Dean Skinns was starting netminder.
It took just 44 seconds for the first penalty to be called when Pirates’ Lee Haywood was sin binned for tripping. But MK were unable to make the most of the man advantage and soon after the hosts returned to full strength they were celebrating their first goal as Matty Davies finished off from James Archer and Matt Bissonnette for a scrappy goal at 5mins 8secs.
During the following minutes it was Pirates who looked more likely to score with Skinns pulling off a number of fine saves while David Norris went closest with a shot which hit the metalwork. Both teams were reduced to four skaters when Hull’s Jonathan Kirk soon followed Lewis Christie to the penalty boxes – the MK man going for hooking and the opposition player for tripping.
Despite that there was no further score before the break after a period in which Skinns was by far the busier netminder – turning away 17 or 18 shots on him with Pirates’ goalie Ashley Smith only having to deal with six attempts.
There second session began badly for Lightning when Skinns attempt to thwart his opponent failed and player coach Jason Hewitt was able to put the puck into an empty net after only 22 seconds. Fortunately Lightning were able to respond swiftly as Christie supplied Tomas Kana to make it 2-1 at 22mins 56secs.
Almost on the half hour mark Steven Chalmers was sent to the sin bin for tripping and this time MK capitalised to level the tallies on the powerplay at 30mins 12secs when Leigh Jamieson was the supplier for captain Russ Cowley.
There was soon another powerplay for Lightning after Ross Green clashed with Haywood receiving an extra two minutes for roughing and fighting. However the Hull goal remained intact despite Smith being forced to make a great save.
There was no further score either, as Norris went for illegal equipment and then Bissonnette ended the period in the penalty box for tripping. And it was the hosts who were to find the net next when Hewitt was provider for defenceman Kevin Phillips to fire past Skinns on 46mins 26secs.
Lightning saw off penalties on Kana and Harry Ferguson before withdrawing Skinns for the extra skater as the final minute of regulation time began and calling a timeout after Archer was sin binned for hooking. It took just eight seconds for MK to equalise once more with a six on four skater advantage – Cale Tanaka supplying Ferguson on 59 mins 18secs, second ahead of Haywood being given his marching orders for a high stick.
In a tense overtime period Lightning survived penalty calls on Ferguson and Jamieson before Sam Towner eventually sealed maximum points for Pirates with 43 seconds of the extra session remaining. It was a disappointing conclusion to a game where Lightning refused to give in.
Man of the match: Dean Skinns.