A goal from Leigh Jamieson 16.9 seconds from the end of overtime sealed an incredible fightback by Milton Keynes Lightning when they overcame Swindon Wildcats 5-4 to take the National League Autumn Cup points at Planet Ice on Thursday.
It was a sweet win for home fans who expected to see the return of Liam Stewart after suspension. But inspection of the rules showed his ban still had two games to run.
Trailing 4-1 at the half way mark, the hosts looked to be in for a heavy defeat before Wildcats conspired to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory – thanks mainly to a series of needless penalties.
Lightning began to see just a glimmer of what was to come as a result of one of those penalties – Edgars Bebris in the sin bin for a high stick which took out Sean Norris – when Bobby Chamberlain scored on the powerplay three seconds after the penalty call at 37mins 57secs.
Wildcats still held the upper hand at 4-2 going into the second break. However, a revived Lightning took the ice for the final 20 minutes. Coach Lewis Clifford reduced his forward lines to seven skaters as Edgars Landsbergs rotated with the top two lines.
The increased intensity of MK’s attacks eventually paid off after Swindon’s Czech forward Emil Svec earned himself four minutes in the cooler for cross-checking and roughing following a clash with James Griffin behind the home goal.
Hallden Barnes-Garner at the back post fired home after Russell Cowley deflected a pass from Jamieson but didn’t seem to know where the puck had gone, only for the youngster to get the final say at 50mins 38secs. Oddly, Barnes-Garner did not feature in any of the regular three forward lines, icing only on the powerplays.
The goal seemed to instil new belief in a Lightning outfit that looked to have suffered a big blow when Sean Norris was hit by a puck and had to retire to the locker room half way through the game. Fortunately, he was able to return shortly after.
Within a minute the tallies were even after Adam Laishram sent Sam Talbot away for a one on one with goalie Renny Marr, the hosts’ forward blasting high into the net on 51mins 21secs.
Suddenly it all looked so much different from earlier in the encounter when Norris, on his first shift, put MK ahead, only for Swindon to reply as Jack Goodchild equalised exactly three minutes later.
A delayed penalty called on Bobby Chamberlain for roughing saw Wildcats edge in front when the ever impressive Tomasz Malasinski unleashed a rocket from the left circle to beat goalie Matt Smital on 6mins 37secs.
Early on neither side was able to make much impression but gradually Wildcats took hold and it was little surprise that Hungary-UK dual national Balint Pakozdi put the visitors further in front after 28mins 20secs.
Only 41 seconds later Wildcats stretched their advantage, despite being short-handed with Svec serving two minutes for interference. This time player-coach Aaron Nell’s blast was blocked but not held by Smital
It looked as though Lightning had a mountain to climb – but they proved it was a not an insurmountable one culminating in Jamieson’s match winner.
Man of the match: James Griffin.