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League leaders Telford Tigers were defeated by a super Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning for the second time in three weeks as the city side bounced back after Saturday’s loss to record a 6-3 win in Shropshire on Sunday.
It meant that Lightning bagged three points out of a possible weekend four to continue to close the gap on the teams above them in the National Ice Hockey League. MK may still be seventh but the deficit on Sheffield Steeldogs one place above them is down to two points and they could have the chance to draw closer to fifth placed Hull Pirates, next Saturday’s opposition at Planet Ice, depending on other results.
Jordan Lawday was handed netminding duties while Brandon Stones was back-up, returning from injury and Tom Carlon was also back.
Lightning raced to a two goal lead by the first interval thanks to a brace of strikes from hat-trick hero Harry Ferguson – the first coming on the powerplay at 10mins 4secs after Tigers’ Andy McKinney was sent to the cooler for slashing with the set up by Liam Stewart and Russ Cowley.
Shortly after MK were reduced to four skaters when Grant McPherson was assessed a tripping penalty and although Lewis Christie was called on to make a good block from a Tigers’ attempt the visitors’ goal remained intact.
Lewis Clifford’s men couldn’t make a penalty on James Smith count but they did double their advantage at full strength when Robin Kovar supplied Ferguson for the second goal after 17mins 57secs.
Telford were kept at bay until 27mins 5secs as McKinney registered a scrambled goal past goalie Jordan Lawday after a lot of early second period pressure from the hosts. However if Tigers thought they were back in the game Lightning had other ideas and 90 seconds later Kovar and Leigh Jamieson were involved in Stewart’s quick goal to make it 3-1.
That lead became 4-1 on 30mins 34secs with Cowley setting up Cale Tanaka and Tigers were on the rocks. Ferguson claimed his first hat-trick for Lightning when he tipped in a blue line blast from Ben Russell at 31mins 45secs.
Telford coach Tom Watkins called a time out to steady the ship and it produced an immediate result with McKinney providing the pass for Scott McKenzie to beat Lawday at 32mins exactly – Tigers having changed goalies with Massimo Agostini taking over from Bradley Day at the break in play.
However the home outfit were unable to gain any further ground on Lightning before the next interval but they did so while McKinney was off the ice having picked up a 10 minute unsportsmanlike penalty at the close of the second period.
Dominik Florian was the provider for Joe Aston on 47mins 40secs to make it 5-3 – MK’s Tom Carlon also in the sin bin for a 12 minute boarding penalty incurred a couple of minutes before.
Lightning had to remain resilient going into the final minutes as Telford tried to cut the deficit further but the pressure was relieved when Cowley and Stewart assisted as Kovar made the most of a cross-checking call on Florian to take the tally to 6-3 on 56mins 14secs.
From then on it was game over – well not quite as Tigers’ Smith and Carlon were involved in double slashing incident with 1min 44secs to go, culminating in a spot of fisticuffs for which each earned four minute penalties.
Man of the Match: Harry Ferguson.
Photo: Steve Brodie, Telford Tigers