An incredible four goals in nine minutes turned the first leg of the National Ice Hockey Cup semi-final on its head at Planet Ice, Milton Keynes, on Thursday.

Until that stage of the game Telford Tigers looked to be taking a comfortable two goal lead into the second leg having gone 4-2 in front within the first 41 seconds of the third period.

However, a fantastic long range shot from James Griffin that rocketed high into Brad Day’s net at 50mins 49secs lit a spark that saw Milton Keynes Lightning snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with three more goals in the dying minutes.

It left Tigers wondering how they had not been able to hold onto what looked like a useful advantage to take back to Telford for the second leg on Wednesday February 9.

The home side gave a debut to new signing from Peterborough Phantoms, Morgan Clarke-Pizzo. He joined Liam Stewart and Tim Wallace on the first line in the absence of Russell Cowley.

Lightning struck first on 7mins 44secs when Mikey Power played the puck on the left hand side to Hallden Barnes Garner and his cross found Adam Laishram at the far post and he duly turned the puck into the net.

Goalie Matt Smital made a fine stop to thwart Vladimir Luka but was unable to deny him a second time a few seconds later as he scored to level for Tigers at 12mins 2secs.

Just 17 seconds later Finley Howells was despatched to the sin bin for tripping. However, it was Tigers who registered while Lightning had the powerplay. A matter of 29 seconds elapsed before Jason Silverthorn was able to score – unassisted – on an effectively empty net after Smital made an error of judgement in advancing too far out of his net.

From then on Lightning were always chasing the game. When Lewis Christie went to sit for two minute for tripping in the 23rd minute Tigers were able to capitalise as a Luka blast from the blue line hit the back of the net to give the visitors a 3-1 lead at 24mins 59secs.

The home side tried to turn up the pressure to get back in the game but their efforts came to nothing until the final minute of the period. In between Sean Norris had a 27th minute attempt stopped by Day before the action switched to the other end where veteran Rick Plant’s shot was blocked by Smital.

Smital was also able to deny Brodie Jesson while Day dealt with Griffin’s mid-range attempt ahead of Sam Talbot firing over the bar. Liam Stewart, meanwhile, could find no gap to put the puck in the net in the 34th minute

Seventeen seconds before the second intermission Bobby Chamberlain made the supply to Talbot to give Lightning a glimmer of hope going into the final period, blasting home from long range through traffic.

That hope seemed to be quickly extinguished within 41 seconds of the restart as Smital advanced out of his crease to close the angle on the advancing Silverthorn. The result was the same as the UK-Canadian dual national notched his second goal from assists by Bayley Harewood and Plant.

In the ensuing minutes, the hosts turned up the gas to retrieve the situation before, finally, Tigers cracked when Stewart found Griffin in space and he was able to unleash an almighty shot that Day failed to stop at 50mins 49secs.

There were appeals for a penalty when Chamberlain appeared to have taken down by Luka but nothing was given. Unperturbed, moments later Norris on the left set up Chamberlain at the right post to draw Lightning level.

Just over two minutes later on 55mins 4secs MK took the lead for the second time in the game with Christie and Leigh Jamieson assisting on Laishram’s second strike, from distance for a 5-4 lead.

However, more was to come. In frantic final few minutes, Tigers saw off a hooking penalty on Scott McKenzie but conceded a sixth goal after the sides returned to even strength. Again, it was Chamberlain on the right fed by Tim Wallace to bring the encounter to a rousing conclusion with 16 seconds remaining.

Man of the match: Adam Laishram.