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One of the best ways to get a brand new team ready for a season is to push itself to understand what it needs to improve on and feel the level of intensity it needs to work at to be competitive. This is why we chose to take on last season’s playoff champs Hull Pirates this weekend.  When we caught up with him after the match, Cliff was clear that his to-do list with the team has been massively helped by tonight’s game and he felt energised to be working with our group of players.  With more ice time and training together in the week ahead it’s a great chance to put that plan into action.

Last night Pirates took the lead after 3mins 55secs through former Lightning star Bobby Chamberlain who finished the night with 3 goals and 2 assists.

Hull’s showed some signs of what time spent can do together in the way they moved the puck and this bodes well for Lightning as they bond as a group

Just over a minute after Chamberlain’s opener Rio Grinell-Parke broke away but was denied by Pirates’ man of the match netminder, Ashley Smith who stood on his head all night. Seconds later Lee Haywood was called for tripping and on the powerplay with Ari Närhi forcing a save.

Another opportunity came Lightning’s way in the 12th minute when Harry Ferguson found himself in space.  Encouraging signs that MK created chances against good opposition and even outshot them over the course of the match.

In the second period although MK had the puck in the net seconds after the restart, only for the ‘goal’ to be disallowed as the net was off its moorings.

Matty Davies shot over goalie Jordan Lawday’s glove hand to make it 2-0 to the visitors on 21mins 26secs and less than two minutes later veteran defenceman Kevin Phillips’ shot from the point was in on 23mins

Lightning’s Leigh Jamieson was ejected from the game on a match penalty for checking from behind in the 26th minute, ahead of a bench penalty on the home side for abuse of an official.

A promising break away by Calum Robertson was snuffed out when he was impeded by Jonathan Kirk – the official awarding a penalty shot to   Lightning. Robertson took the shot but the Pirates netminder turned it onto the post.  A game of such fine margins!

Into the third period and Pirates struck again only 38 seconds after the restart – Chamberlain setting up Olegs Sislannikovs who fired in from the right hand side of goal.

Just over two minutes later at 42mins 46secs Chamberlain was involved when Sislannikovs set up Haywood for goal number five for the visitors.

There was finally something for the home faithful to cheer about after Kirk was penalised for interference on 43mins 41secs – within nine seconds James Griffin made the pass for Närhi to beat Smith.

But the joy was short-lived with Pirates raiding the Lightning goal for a sixth marker through Chamberlain at 44mins 7secs.

By the time Grant McPherson had deflected a Russ Cowley blue line rocket into the net for MK’s second goal on the powerplay at 53mins 34secs the visitors had already bagged a seventh strike thanks to their player coach Jason Hewitt on 52mins 8secs.

All in all, a number of important pre-season learning points have been gathered – and that’s exactly the purpose of these games. It’s worth remembering that many of the Pirates side have been playing together for many years while MK’s are still learning to gel together and will do so as they spend more time on the ice as a team.  Overall Hull had a standout performance by their goaltender and 5 points from Chamberlain we’re the difference in a match where MK carried a threat in many passages of play

Man of the match: Cale Tanaka, sponsored by A2B Airport Transfers