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Sheffield Steeldogs’ reported attempts to close down sharp shooter Liam Stewart worked well for all of 2mins 4secs as Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning closed the gap on the teams above them in the National Ice Hockey League at Planet Ice on Saturday.

To a player of Stewart’s calibre Steeldogs’ bid to stop him would have proved to a challenge to rise to. And it took him a mere couple of minutes to fire cheeky backhand shot past Dimitri Zimozdra after being set up by Ross Green.

Then to emphasise a point Stewart then scored the game winning goal to make it 4-3 seconds after Sheffield had tied the game up with just over six minutes remaining.

Combined with defeat for Hull Pirates it meant that Lightning moved into fifth spot in the table with Basingstoke Bison and Peterborough Phantoms now clearly within sight.

Following ‘Disco’ Stewart’s opener the hosts stamped their mark on the game after Zimozdra was penalised for interference in the 16th minute. It took Tom Carlon, aided by Leigh Jamieson, just 42 seconds to score on 16mins 59secs.

However Steeldogs were able claw one back before the first interval when they made the most of an interference call on Tomas Kana. With 1min 2secs remaining Lewis Bell got the assist as Vladimir Luka beat goalie Jordan Lawday for a powerplay goal.

It was the visitors who bagged the only goal of the second session after Grant McPherson was sin binned in the 25th minute for tripping. This time it was Steeldogs’ second import Jan Danecek who was on the mark at 27mins 25secs for the equaliser.

Lightning saw off a slashing call on Cale Tanaka in the 36th minute as the period ended level pegging.

That score changed within the first three minutes of the final session when Carlon registered his second of the night, finishing off from McPherson and Harry Ferguson at 42mins 51secs.

But Steeldogs were not finshed yet and they seized their chance when Lightning had two players in the penalty box – Tanaka for tripping following Jordan Stokes for roughing. With a two man advantage player coach Ben Morgan set up Luka for his second goal at 53mins 21secs.

The response from MK was fast with Jamieson and Robin Kovar involved as Stewart sealed the win only 26 seconds later. 

Lightning were then able to tighten their grip on the game to such an extent that Steeldogs were unable to withdraw Zimozdra for the extra skater until eight seconds before the final buzzer. It was far too late to have an effect with MK taking both points after a bit of pushing and shoving involving Kovar, Rio Grinell-Parke and Jamieson opposing Bell and Jack Brammer at the end.

Man of the match: Tom Carlon.

Photo: Tom Roberts