Under-strength Milton Keynes Lightning came from two goals behind to seal an NIHL Cup victory in overtime against a resilient Raiders at Planet Ice on Saturday.
The 4-3 win came despite Lightning missing five members of the roster with Ross Bowers persuaded to come out of retirement to help out and former MK Storm junior goalie Thomas Adams, now on Haringey Huskies’ books, filling the gap left by the injury to back up netminder Matt Smital.
After a slow start the hosts gradually found a way into the game and in the third period the partnership between former Basingstoke Bison pair Sean Norris and Sam Talbot started to produce rewards – the latter’s performance with two goals and two assists.
In the end it was Norris who sent the home fans happy when his blast from the left defeated Raiders’ goalie Ethan James 1min 19secs into the extra period – the pass coming from Talbot.
Raiders edged ahead in a scrappy first period – neither side able to come up with anything to threaten the opposition goal in the opening minutes even when on the powerplay with a penalty apiece called by the officials.
Jake Sylvester hit the wrong side of the pipework for the visitors shortly before Talbot forced a fine save by James in the 13th minute. MK were caught out when Jack Cooper fed Slovakian Erik Piatak to go one on one with netminder Brandon Stones and fire past him on 13mins 39secs.
Worse was to come for the home side when Raiders’ first attacking move of the second session produced dividends as Dan Scott supplied captain Aaron Connolly to make it 2-0.
Lightning responded with a couple of promising moves – Bobby Chamberlain and Leigh Jamieson, playing as a forward, testing James. Eventually Lightning’s reward came when Jamieson set up Talbot crashing to the net for the team’s first goal on 28mins 13secs.
MK survived a late middle session penalty when Norris took exception to a challenge by Raiders Tom Relf – earning an extra two minutes for cross checking with both receiving two minutes in the coolers for roughing.
The third period saw Lightning upping the pressure but without reward as Talbot had a 42nd minute effort parried away, the same player also unsuccessful when set up by Norris. Raiders called a timeout, obviously aware of the danger, and it produced another go ahead goal when Sylvester forced puck over the line in a goalmouth scramble on 55mins 49secs.
Lightning were not finished yet though and it was a case of third time lucky for Chamberlain when he shot over James’ shoulder for the equaliser with 2mins 11secs to go, having shot wide twice shortly before.
At 3-3 the game required overtime with Norris finishing off with a great strike to secure the win.
Man of the match: Brandon Stones.