Inspired by a Liam Stewart hat-trick and a Sam Talbot brace Milton Keynes Lightning put the disappointment of their previous two games behind them with an emphatic 8-3 win over struggling Bees at Planet Ice on Saturday.
Apart from shaky ten minutes in the second period Lightning were dominant throughout and rarely looked like losing after taking a three goal lead into the first break. Lightning were missing Sean Norris from the offensive lines and Lewis Christie in defence, plus Edgars Landsbergs.
Man of the match Stewart won possession in the offensive zone to catch out goalie Adam Goss with an upstairs shot as early as 4mins 19secs and he added a second at 16mins 21secs while the teams were four on four after Tim Wallace followed Juha Lindgren off the ice on a hooking call.
Goss made a great stop to deny Bobby Chamberlain in the eighth minute before Alan Lack was denied in front of the MK goal. Adam Laishram passed to Stewart for a shot that Goss stopped in the tenth minute.
For the second goal Stewart finished off a neat move in front of the net also involving Ed Knaggs and Russell Cowley. No one looked more surprised than Ben Russell when his blue line blast trickled over the line after it went through Goss’s legs with 35 seconds remaining on the first period.
Lightning were quickly on the defensive early in the middle session when Morgan Clarke-Pizzo was penalised for boarding. Bees were able to put pressure on the MK net but were unable to capitalise.
Former Lightning forward Zaine McKenzie was next in the sin bin for cross-checking Chamberlain – Clarke-Pizzo had a fierce shot on the powerplay saved in the chest by Goss before Wallace fed Chamberlain for a shot saved with a glove.
A minute or so later MK were caught on the attack as Bees took advantage of a two on one raid – man of the match Dominik Gabaj, supplied by Lindgren, beat netminder Matt Smital for the visitors’ opening strike at 28mins 30secs.
Lightning saw off a too many men on the ice penalty but couldn’t prevent Bees from giving themselves hope with two late period goals – Gabaj setting up McKenzie for a reflex shot past Smital at 38mins 35secs and Lindgren taking Gabaj’s supply 14 seconds to the buzzer.
In between MK made a quick response to McKenzie’s strike when, almost from the face off, Wallace made the pass for Talbot to score at 38mins 58secs.
In the third period Lightning were back in charge within 44 seconds of the first buzzer. Cowley played the puck out of defence to Laishram and the dual Canadian/UK national crossed for Stewart to complete his hat-trick and the hosts’ sixth.
Just over four minutes later Goss fell victim to another long range Lightning rocket – this time from the stick of Talbot, set up by Chamberlain and Wallace to make it 7-3 at 44mins 55secs.
Chamberlain had a 49th minute effort go wide of target before, seconds later, he supplied Wallace for a shot that was blocked by Goss.
Lightning rounded out the win on 55mins 11secs when Leigh Jamieson started the move that finished with Laishram setting up Cowley to find the gap at the right hand side of goal.
Man of the match: Liam Stewart.