A change of line combinations provided the spark to fire Milton Keynes Lightning to a 5-4 win over old rivals Peterborough Phantoms at Planet Ice on Saturday.
After beginning with the usual lines coach Lewis Clifford switched Adam Laishram to partner Liam Stewart and Russ Cowley on the first line later in the game while Bobby Chamberlain joined Sean Norris and Sam Talbot on the second line. The change bore fruit with a marked increase in the intensity of the offensive raids in the third period that saw three goals shared between the two lines.
It all looked so different earlier on, as both teams appeared to adopt a cagey approach – just 10 shots between them in the first period telling the tale of how shot shy they were. As it was, the only goal came on 14mins 59secs while Phantoms were on a powerplay resulting from a hooking call on Talbot after he tangled with his opponent. Former MK junior Glenn Billing got the final touch at the left post to make it 1-0 to Peterborough at the first break.
Lightning’s best effort’s in the opening 20 minutes came from Talbot who went solo but failed to beat goalie Jordan Marr in the first few minutes while Norris saw his shot saved by the netminder with the hosts a goal behind.
The home outfit began the second period with renewed vigour but had to wait until 25mins 53secs before Norris finished off following Marr’s block from Laishram that allowed Talbot to feed the scorer.
In the ensuing minutes MK tried to step up the pressure with Norris, Chamberlain and Talbot all thwarted. Joe Gretton then cross-checked Edgars Landsbergs, promptly earning the offender two minutes in the sin bin. Lightning made the most of having the extra man as Laishram blasted in from the right to put his team 2-1 in front at 33mins 12secs.
It was not long though before Phantoms were afforded a powerplay after Chamberlain was assessed holding on Jarvis Hunt – goalie Matt Smital drawn to his near post only for billing to feed Duncan Speirs at the back pipe to score at 34mins 50secs.
Phantoms began the final session a man short as Nathan Pollard sat out a tripping penalty. Having seen that off the visitors conceded when Leigh Jamieson and Stewart set up Cowley to register from close range on 43mins 20secs.
A further Lightning penalty – this time Chamberlain on a hooking call – allowed Phantoms to level for the final time on the powerplay. Once again Billing was the scorer from Tom Norton at 45mins 44secs.
A spectacular long distance rocket shot from Stewart – aided by Cowley and Ed Knaggs – put MK back on top less than two minutes later at 47mins 27secs. The home side then seemed to have the game wrapped up when quick acting Chamberlain followed up to score on 54mins 34secs after great pressure by his two forward line mates, Talbot and Norris.
That prompted an immediate timeout by Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov just before Cowley was penalised for a high stick. Peterborough made the five on four skaters advantage a six on four by withdrawing Marr. MK survived that but Smital was beaten by a second Speirs goal with 1min 43secs remaining.
A further attempt to withdraw Marr was prevented by Lightning pressure until the final few seconds – too late to stop the home fans from being given cause to celebrate.
Man of the match: Adam Laishram.