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Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning made it four wins from five games after they saw off a Sheffield Steeldogs fightback to hold on for a 4-3 win at iceSheffield on Sunday.
The win ensured that Lightning continued to make up ground on Bracknell Bees who lost twice at the weekend, as well as Steeldogs who fell to MK for the second time in as many games. And with Raiders unable to repeat their shock win over Hull on Saturday it meant that Lightning moved up into eighth spot, two points ahead of the Romford side.
Lightning struck twice within 15 seconds to stun Steeldogs who had seen a third minute effort from a breakaway hit a post before Liam Stewart tested goalie Dimitri Zimozdra ahead of Cale Tanaka trying to set up Tomas Kana for a shot which was deflected into the netting.
Tanaka and Kana combined again shortly after with the final shot going wide. It was Tanaka who eventually opened the scoring after Tim Smith was sin binned on 10mins 34secs for slashing. It took all of 19 seconds for Leigh Jamieson to provide the pass for Tanaka to fire home at 10mins 53secs.
That put Steeldogs back at full strength but it was only a matter of seconds – 15 in fact – before Tanaka and James Griffin had a hand in Russ Cowley’s second goal of the weekend.
MK had another powerplay when Smith made his second visit to the penalty box – this time for hooking – in the 13th minute. Steeldogs survived with a man short on this occasion although Zimozdra was called on to make a save from a blue line Leigh Jamieson effort.
The visitors then saw off a penalty on Griffin for slashing to keep a 2-0 advantage going into the first break – a lead that was maintained until Griffin was called for tripping on 22mins 50secs. Goalie Jordan Lawday was unable to stop shot from Alex Graham, supplied by Reece Cochrane and Greg Wood on 24mins 47secs.
It was not long before the hosts were on level terms following a spell of sustained pressure on the MK goal with James Spurr scoring at the back post from a mishit Charlie Thompson attempt after 26mins 48secs.
Spurr soon was hero turned offender as he was sent to the cooler for cross checking at 30mins 17secs – Robin Kovar and Rio- Grinell-Parke involved in the play which saw Harry Ferguson score his second goal of the season on the resulting powerplay at 31mins 1secs.
Lightning’s powerplay units struck again on 38mins 58secs when Smith was again the culprit, sitting out a holding penalty, and Zimozdra was on a delayed holding penalty. The scorer was Stewart from Jamieson.
However Steeldogs kept themselves in the game with an immediate response through a short-handed top shelf blast from Vladimir Luka 15 seconds from the second buzzer.
MK were unable to find a reply in the remaining part of the powerplay spreading into the third period and neither could they break Sheffield’s resolve when the hosts’ Lewis Bell was sidelined for kneeing in the 41st minute.
Craig Elliott and MK’s Jordan Stokes clashed in the 51st minute – both players called for roughing but it was no consequence to the score and neither was there a goal after Kovar was penalised for a face off violation in 55th minute.
Zimozdra was withdrawn for the extra skater in the final 20 seconds but Steeldogs could not make it pay with MK maintaining their 4-3 lead and two points.
Man of the match: Cale Tanaka.