Milton Keynes Lightning returned to winning ways in their final National Ice Hockey League game of the season, but they did it the hard way, coming from behind three times to beat Bees 6-4 at Planet Ice on Saturday.

With eyes perhaps on the post-season play-off campaign, Lightning’s need for a win was less desperate than that of Bees who needed a point from overtime to secure their place. 

For most of the second half of the game, it looked as though Bees would achieve their target. They went into the final ten minutes playing an increasingly defensive strategy, only to be undone by Tim Wallace’s 52nd minute powerplay strike.

When Sam Talbot was fed by Adam Laishram to go one on one with goalie Curtis Warburton, firing in a shot high into the net with less than three minutes to go, Bees’ fate was sealed.

A stoppage in play when Hallden Barnes Garner was penalised for tripping with 45 seconds left gave Bees the chance of a timeout. They withdrew Warburton to give them a six on four skater advantage but Lightning’s penalty kill unit held firm for the win.

The hosts were dealt an early blow when Dominik Gabaj fed Adam Rosbottom to beat netminder Matt Smital just 1min 7secs after the first puck was dropped.

It didn’t take long for Wallace to provide the supply for Sean Norris to unleash a rocket blast past Warburton to level on 3mins 47secs.

The encounter swung Lightning’s way as they took a 2-1 lead on 11mins 33secs with a Bobby Chamberlain powerplay shot high to the left of Warburton while Joe Baird was in the sin bin for tripping.

However when Chamberlain was caught checking to the head of his opponent, the Berkshire outfit were given a powerplay – taking full advantage as Will Stead set up his brother, Harvey, to equalise for Bees at 15mins 54secs. 

Bees went into the first break back in the lead when their impressive man of the match, Ivan Antonov, finished off a neat move also involving Will Stead and Ed Bradley at 18mins 5secs.

Barnes Garner engaged with James Galazzi in the final minute of the period – the Bees man the winner as both earned five minutes off the ice for fighting.

Stuart Mogg had an early chance for Bees to extend their advantage with a blocked attempt in the 21st minute before a fine move by Norris, Wallace ended with a Sam Talbot blocked effort a few seconds later.

The home outfit wasted a powerplay opportunity as Mogg was sent to the penalty box – a weak Mikey Power backstick shot being the best they could offer.

Lightning equalised as they went on a quick break, turning over a Bees attack, Wallace feeding Talbot for a blast that gave Warburton little chance at 31mins 55secs.

However, Antonov then robbed his marker to go one on one and defeat Smital at 33mins 4secs to give Bees the goal advantage again.

It was to be the last time the visitors were in front. Bradley was called for holding Norris and as the penalty was being assessed Ross Green took exception to Josh Martin. Green was given five minutes plus game for fighting and misconduct while his opponent went for slashing.

The net result was a four on three powerplay for MK – they made the most of it with Russ Cowley setting up Chamberlain to equalise on 36mins 55secs.

Wallace had a couple of efforts blocked early in the third session before Bradley was penalised for tripping Liam Stewart at 45mins 31secs.

The powerplay chance was spurned and it was not until Will Stead was given two minutes in the cooler for hooking that MK were able to go ahead with a well deserved Wallace marker on 52mins 21secs, the assists going to Stewart and Leigh Jamieson.

Laishram and Norris earned the helpers as Talbot broke to beat Warburton to give Lightning a two goal cushion on 57mins 17secs – a lead that they were not to surrender.

Man of the match: Bobby Chamberlain.