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Basingstoke Bison brought Smith Milton Keynes Lightning’s mini winning run to an end with a 5-3 defeat on a frustrating night for the hosts at Planet Ice on Sunday.
Bison’s ability to pack defenders close to the net on Lightning’s attacking moves meant Lewis Clifford’s charges were often restricted to shooting from the margins with little hope of beating netminder Alex Mettam.
While Liam Stewart had six points from the previous night’s defeat of Hull Pirates this time he was successfully closed down by the visitors to end the game without a single point. Stewart’s hockey brain is clearly not on the same wavelength as some of his team-mates – he does not have the same understanding that he had with Robin Kovar with his replacement Taylor Dickin.
Possibly the best entertainment for the fans was the fight between the two netminders 25 seconds from the end of the game – Jordan Lawday and former MK tender Alex Mettam dropping the gloves for an incident which them both earn four minutes in penalties. There seemed to be no reason for the clash – at opposite ends of the ice neither could have met physically and while Mettam is a stalwart at this level Lawday has little history in the league.
The net consequence was that the experienced Dean Skinns and his opposite number Dan Weller Evans probably had the shortest shifts in their careers – with the MK man making three saves in that time.
On a penalty filled night it was Stewart who was first to the penalty box – going for tripping on 1min 33secs. Nothing came of it and it was not until Dickin was sin binned for a face off violation and Lewis Christie followed him in for slashing that Bison took advantage of a five on three powerplay to score through Sean Norris who found space to give Lawday no chance at 13mins exactly.
That’s the way it remained until the first break and it was Bison who began the second period on the offensive with player coach Ashley Tait testing Lawday once before he found space on the left to shoot to the far side of the goalie for the Hampshire outfit’s second goal at 21mins 20secs.
Lightning hit back on 24mins 36secs when Cale Tanaka’s persistence saw him put the finishing touch to a Tomas Kana set up before MK had an extended five on three powerplay with Elliott Dewey, Adam Jones and Michal Klejna all visiting the cooler in quick succession. But the home side were unable to grab what could have been a crucial equaliser.
Instead it was when Ben Russell was penalised for hooking that Bison forged further in front with the promising George Norcliffe putting on a turn of speed to create space to defeat Lawday at 35mins 2secs.
Lightning were reduced to three skaters early in the third session as Jordan Stokes was caught slashing Sam Talbot and James Griffin was assessed a cross-checking penalty. This time the short-handed team survived without further damage.
Home fans were briefly given hope of a turn around when Dickin registered a messy goal from Leigh Jamieson’s supply at 49mins 56secs but it was not long before Bison restored their two goal lead when Lawday gave away a soft goal as Klejna scored with a shot from inside the blue line on 51mins 29secs – an advantage they held until 57mins precisely.
Jamieson put on a turn of speed up the left, beat all in front of him, went round the net and blasted home from distance to make it 4-3. With a one goal deficit Clifford withdrew the goalie for the extra skater with 1min 34secs left and in consequence Tait was able to fire in on the empty net 54 seconds from the buzzer to give Bison a comfortable win.
Man of the match: Cale Tanaka.
Photo credit: Tony Sargent, Milton Keynes Lightning