Milton Keynes Lightning moved up into third spot in the National Ice Hockey League with a well-earned 4-2 victory at Basingstoke Bison on Saturday – leapfrogging Telford Tigers who lost at Bees
Goalie Matt Smital posted a 95 per cent save rate to take the man of the match award in a game with a delayed face off while the ice was recut. Nevertheless, once the game got underway it was Lightning who notched up a two goal lead before Bison got on the scoresheet.
MKL successfully defended a third minute penalty on Sean Norris for hooking and then were given a two minute powerplay in the sixth minute when Bison player coach Ashley Tait was sent to the sin bin for boarding. Both outfits saw off their short-handed spells with no damage to their goals.
Bison could do little though to prevent Lightning from going ahead on 13mins 59secs when Bobby Chamberlain set up Sam Talbot sent netminder Alex Mettam’s water bottle flying with an unstoppable top left shot that rocketed into the net.
The first 10mins of the middle period largely passed without incident until Talbot was hauled down by an Alex Roberts slash on 30mins 51secs. Once again Bison’s goal remained intact at the end of the two minutes with MK holding a man advantage.
Bison survived another penalty call – this time on Aidan Doughty for tripping Liam Stewart – before the travellers struck again on 36mins 15secs. This time Adam Laishram had the second assist when Chamberlain set up Edgars Landsbergs to score for a 2-0 lead at the end of a middle session in which Smital was by far the busier goalie, facing 20 shots compared with Mettam’s eight.
Less than three minutes of the final period elapsed before Bison finally beat Smital – the goal coming from Doughty, aided by Zack Milton, at 42mins 56secs. And they soon had the chance to draw level when MK’s Leigh Jamieson was sent to the cooler for hooking.
Despite this Bison were unable to draw level until 50mins 46secs when Liam Morris scored unassisted – MKL under a lot of pressure at the time. To their credit they hung on and were able to make the most of a 52nd minute call on Adam Jones for cross-checking, registering on the powerplay when Chamberlain lobbed the puck over Mettam at 54mins 9secs. The helpers went to Laishram and Jamieson
Before Bison had chance to recover Lightning struck again for a 4-2 lead just 19 seconds later as Chamberlain was once again involved in Norris’ goal scored on a breakaway.
Man of the match: Matt Smital.