Teenager Milique Martelly stole the show with a man of the match performance as Milton Keynes Lightning edged out Raiders 3-1 in their first National League game of the season at Planet Ice on Saturday.

The 17-year-old defenceman, drafted in from National League One side Streatham where former MK hero Michael Farn is now player-coach, put in a display that belied his years.

Martelly stepped onto the ice to fill the void due to Ross Green’s continued injury while fellow defenceman Lewis Christie was also unavailable.

Lightning also welcomed back former netminder Jordan Hedley who is back up goalie at Elite League Coventry Blaze. Hedley who last played for MK in in 2017-2018 their final Elite season was brought in to fill in the gap left by the absence of Brandon Stones.

Although the margin of victory may suggest it was comfortable it was anything but with the final game-clinching goal, an empty netter from Bobby Chamberlain, supplied by Sam Talbot and Liam Stewart, not coming until five seconds from the buzzer. ‘Disco’ Stewart was given a warm welcome by the 1,500 odd fans in the arena on what was his home debut for the season.

The close encounter was characterised by the fact that there was nothing to separate the two sides in terms of goals at the end of the first period that ended 0-0 – both teams able to see off the one penalty apiece.

It was not until after the halfway mark that the deadlock was broken after JJ Pitchley was sin binned for tripping Adam Laishram. On the powerplay, revenge was sweet for Laishram, rounding off a fine move involving Chamberlain and Leigh Jamieson at 33mins 59secs.

A couple more second session penalties came and went without any addition to the scores for both MK and Raiders – Lightning ending the period short-handed when Edgars Landsbergs was called for holding.

Although that penalty was of no significance, Landsbergs was despatched to the sin bin again for interference within the first three minutes of the third period. This time Raiders made the extra man count with Erik Piatak setting up Aaron Connolly to register the leveller at 43mins 57secs.

Raiders were handed a great chance to take the lead after Sam Russell was handed a five minute penalty for boarding Brandon Ayliffe with just over ten minutes to go. But Lightning’s rearguard prevented any score.

It was to prove costly for the visitors when Chamberlain made the pass for Sean Norris to put Lightning on top at 54mins 58secs, before Raiders coach Sean Easton withdrew his goalie, Ethan James for the final 30 seconds or so to allow the extra skater – giving Chamberlain his opportunity to fire in on the empty net at 59mins 55secs.

Man of the match: Milique Martelly