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Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning’s four game winning run was ended by old rivals Peterborough Phantoms in dramatic style at Planet Ice on Saturday with an overtime winner 19.5 seconds from the final buzzer.
Absolutely no one in the crowd of 2,245 could have had any grounds for complaint about entertainment value even though the goal by Callum Buglass to seal a 7-6 win for the visitors was a disappointing conclusion for home fans. The game was one of the best seen in Milton Keynes in many a year with an encounter which had everything – passion, commitment and plenty of heart-stopping moments for a noisy crowd boosted by a large travelling contingent.
While it is true to say that Lightning were always chasing the game from the moment Bradley Bowering put Phantoms in front on the powerplay after 6mins 46secs it was a match-up which could have gone either way. Indeed towards the end of regulation time it was Lightning who possibly looked more likely to take both points.
Bowering’s opener from the blue line came while Phantoms had the extra man on the ice after Liam Stewart was penalised for charging. Skinns had little chance to see the shot through traffic.
It was Stewart who tied the scores on 9mins 18secs when his speedy reaction to his own blast against the back boards saw him fire past Phantoms goalie, Jordan Marr.
However it was the visitors that went into the first break with a single goal lead when Ales Padelek seized on a poor attempted pass to Robin Kovar to send a rocket past goalie Dean Skinns.
It took until 27mins 31secs for Lightning to draw level but when they did it was in style as Russell Cowley was credited with a final tip in from a blue line blast from man of the match Leigh Jamieson.
Lightning saw off a cross checking penalty on Rio Grinell-Parke, only to concede a third goal four seconds after its expiry. Skinns again appeared to be unsighted when Robert Ferrara unleashed a slapshot from the blue line which was redirected by Corey McEwen.
When Padelek found himself in space with no one marking him 27 seconds from the end of the middle period he made no mistake in putting Phantoms 4-2 in front – the task beginning to look ever more difficult for the hosts.
But a roughing penalty on Robert Ferrara right on the buzzer gave the home side a powerplay to start the final session and they did not waste it as Kovar set up Cale Tanaka right in front of goal to make it 4-3 at 41mins 16secs. Seconds earlier Tomas Kana had the puck in the net but the ‘goal’ was washed out as the net been knocked off its moorings before the shot was taken.
After Tanaka’s strike it was game on and just over three minutes later it was Tanaka was the supplier for Jamieson in a well worked move to equalise on 44mins 37secs. However it took Phantoms just 61 seconds to regain the lead when a great pass from Petr Stepanek on the right was turned in by Martins Susters.
MK fans were soon celebrating another equaliser when Kovar appeared to get the final touch in a goalmouth scramble, but the effort was rightly ruled out by the officials for netminder interference.
Coach Lewis Clifford’s change of lines in the third period, switching Grinell-Parke to the third line and moving Jamieson from defence to the first forward line truly paid off as once more the hosts bounced back on 52mins 50secs with an equally fine pass from Stewart for Jamieson to bag his second goal of the night. But yet again it looked to be game over as James Ferrara put the visitors in front again at 56mins 19secs.
However Peterborough hadn’t reckoned on James Griffin producing an excellent blue line rocket through traffic to hit the back of the net with 2mins 15secs of regulation time remaining.
And so it was down to do or die overtime which was always likely to end cruelly for one team or the other. Unfortunately for Lightning they were the victims as Buglass broke away up the left hand side and found a gap to defeat Skinns – and the hosts – with 64mins 40secs on the clock to make it 7-6.
What a night and what a game – the old rivalry between Phantoms and Lightning is back.
Man of the match: Leigh Jamieson.
Photo: Tom Roberts