Adam Laishram bagged a hat-trick and another well-deserved man of the match award as Milton Keynes Lightning saw off Bees in a7-5 win which was not as close as the scoreline suggested at Planet Ice on Saturday.
It was not until the third period that Bees posed much of a threat and indeed the Slough-based outfit only narrowed the tallies to a respectable score in the final 10 minutes with Lightning dominating the first session to lead 3-1.
Liam Stewart fired MK off to a brilliant start, scoring after 45 seconds during the home side’s first meaningful offensive move with both Hallden Barnes-Garner and Ed Knaggs both going close in the following minutes.
The early pressure paid off with a second goal on 7mins 2secs when Laishram went round the net to find a gap beyond starting netminder Curtis Warburton – the set up coming from captain Russell Cowley.
An interference call on Sean Norris put Bees at a man advantage and they got off the mark on the powerplay at 12mins 20secs through their most potent player, Dominik Gabaj.
However, Warburton’s net was sliced open again before the first interval – thanks to a man advantage resulting from a tripping penalty on Skate Skalde – son of Cardiff Devils’ head coach, Jarrod Skalde. Cowley and Stewart were involved in Bobby Chamberlain’s weak goal on 18mins 36secs.
If Lightning’s opening first period was quick then their first of the second was even faster. Again it was Stewart who found the net after just 26seconds on the first attack of the period.
Ben Russell was sent to the cooler shortly afterwards for tripping Josh Martin but Bees were on the backfoot and made no impression – the best chance falling to Stewart short-handed.
Lightning extended their lead to four goals through Sam Talbot, aided by Chamberlain, after 25mins 45secs – prompting an immediate timeout by Bees and the withdrawal of Warburton to avoid a further toasting. In his place stepped former MK goalie, Adam Goss.
Bees reduced the arrears on 32mins 24secs when goalie Brandon Stones appeared to be unsighted by a blast from distance by Juha Lindgren – both outfits reduced to four skaters due to penalties on Laishram and James Galazzi for slashing.
However, within two minutes Lightning were four goals in front once again with Laishram going solo to round Goss on 34mins 4secs to give a comfortable 6-2 lead for the hosts at the second intermission.
It seemed MK were coasting to a comfortable victory until Bees began the third period with renewed energy and this time it was the visitors who scored the early goal – after just 13 seconds through Gabaj, putting the final touch to a Harvey Stead drive to the net.
Lightning then regained the ascendancy with a superb Laishram goal fired in from a narrow angle out on the left of goal at 45mins 46secs to make the tallies 7-3.
Fireworks were sparked as the result of Stones having the puck knocked out of his hand with Chamberlain and Ross Green for MK and Mikey Power and Skalde for Bees all handed fighting penalties.
Bees cut the deficit as Gabaj completed his hat-trick on 52mins 54secs with an effort that Stones should have collected. But MK were not finished and Talbot saw his shot saved by Goss with the clock counting down.
It was Bees who struck last though when MK were reduced to three skaters after Leigh Jamieson was called for slashing moments after a too many men penalty – man of the match Bayley Harewood scoring with two seconds remaining.
That was after Chamberlain and Galazzi decided to provide some last moment entertainment with a second, seemingly pointless, fight.
Man of the match: Adam Laishram.