Man of the match Sam Talbot’s superb hat-trick steered Milton Keynes Lightning to a 6-3 NIHL Autumn Cup victory over Basingstoke Bison at Planet Ice on Wednesday.
The game, postponed from September 26, was an academic affair with neither side able to progress further in the competition – the semi final line-up already decided. But that did not stop either side from seeking to establish bragging rights ahead of the series of league encounters.
With netminding duties handed to Brandon Stones it was not long before he was picking the puck out of the goal as Liam Morris’ blast on 1min 30secs went into the goal and rebounded out within a fraction of a second.
Lightning were kept at bay on the powerplay after Lewis Christie was tripped by Zack Milton but they did level things up on 6mins 8secs with a well worked goal when Bobby Chamberlain sent Sean Norris away to set up Talbot for the first of his trio.
A further man advantage – Milton back in the box for holding the opponent’s stick proved fruitless – but when Jay King was called for tripping Liam Stewart in the 11th minute Bison were made to pay as Norris’ back pass on to Talbot was sent home from close range at 12mins exactly.
An Edgars Landsbergs shot early in the second period was easily dealt with as was a Norris effort, while George Norcliffe and King were thwarted by Stones. Bison then squared things up with an Adam Jones shot on 27mins 8secs that Stones should probably have been able to deal with.
MK were back ahead though by 33mins 19secs thanks to Hallden Barners-Garner’ supply from the right that was finished off by Landsbergs shortly before Talbot was floored with a stick to the face.
Chamberlain in sticking up for his team mate ended up being given his marching orders on a game misconduct penalty following a fight with Alex Sampford – forcing coach Lewis Clifford to shuffle his lines.
Talbot was again the victim when Bison’s Czech forward Filip Martinec slashed him and ended up with a 10 minute misconduct penalty.
Lightning held a slender 3-2 advantage at the start of the third – a lead that Bison thought they had wiped early on with a Jones shot in the back of the net. But the officials ruled that Stones had been impeded and chalked off the effort.
Bison did draw level following a hooking penalty on Landsbergs. Defending the powerplay Lightning failed to clear their zone quickly enough and Milton seized the opportunity for an equaliser at 47mins 25mins.
It was the last time MK’s defences were breached with the home side back in control less than a minute later as Talbot won possession in the neutral zone and raced away to score at 48mins 19secs – Norris acting as decoy on his left.
Just over three minutes later Bison were caught in possession in front of their own net as Stewart snapped up the chance to put MK further in front at 51mins 35secs with an unassisted strike.
Bison were truly buried when Brendan Baird was assessed a holding penalty with less than two minutes remaining Russ Cowley scoring on the powerplay 1min 4secs from the buzzer to make it 6-3.
Man of the match: Sam Talbot.