After the highs of defeating the top two sides in the National Ice Hockey League, Milton Keynes Lightning were brought back to earth with a bump when they went down 7-3 at Peterborough Phantoms on Sunday.
The exertions of the cup win against Telford Tigers and success two days later over Swindon Wildcats may have taken its toll in Lightning’s third game in four days but Phantoms’ rink has often proved to be a difficult place to play.
However, Lightning got off to a good start thanks to a hooking penalty on Will Weldon that allowed the visitors to go a goal ahead on the powerplay after 5mins 28secs – Liam Stewart finishing off a well worked move with Tim Wallace and Sam Talbot having a hand in the build-up.
It was not long though before MK were a man short when Bobby Chamberlain was called for boarding at 8mins 41secs. It took Phantoms just 19 seconds to score through Tom Norton against Brandon Stones, given the nod over Matt Smital in the visitors’ goal.
Peterborough pressure paid off on 17mins 24secs as Petr Stepanek, who recently re-joined the Cambridgeshire outfit, was able to squeeze the puck home – the assist going to Callum Buglass.
Lightning ended the first period with Chamberlain back in the sin bin, this time for slashing, but they survived the penalty that was mainly served at the start of the second session. Phantoms also saw off a tripping penalty on Corey McEwen – just before Stewart set up Sean Norris to register at 26mins 33secs, one second after the end of the powerplay.
Phantoms hit back almost immediately when Duncan Speirs, aided by Ales Padelek and Glenn Billing, put the puck past Stones on a delayed slashing penalty on Leigh Jamieson at 27mins 5secs.
From then on Lightning trailed the hosts until the final buzzer – Phantoms made it 4-2 on a 4 on 3 powerplay on 30mins 55secs when defenceman Norton bagged his second goal from Billing and Bradley Bowering.
Lightning cut the gap when Buglass was assessed two minutes for tripping and Norris and Talbot were involved as Stewart struck for a second time on 32mins 37secs. That was as good as it got for Lewis Clifford’s men with Phantoms soon making it 5-3 through Billing, assisted by Bowering and Padelek at 35mins 45secs.
Moments later two bouts of fisticuffs erupted simultaneously – Ross Green going with Jasper Foster and Hallden Barnes-Garner taking on Joe Gretton. All four received five minutes in their respective coolers for fighting and, unfortunately for Lightning, both Green and Barnes Garner both had an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.
That gave Phantoms a five on three powerplay going into the second period break that ended 5-3.
There was an early scare for Lightning as James Griffin was helped off the ice with a leg injury but he was able to return to the ice shortly before Ben Russell was sin binned for tripping.
Once more Phantoms were able to make the most of the man advantage as Billing scored with Padelek and Speirs assisting at 46mins 16secs.
The game was already well won but Phantoms had time to add one more to their tally as Lightning paid the price for another offence – this time Ed Knaggs going for tripping with just under three minutes remaining. Jarvis Hunt got in on the scoring act for the home outfit to make it 7-3.
Man of the match: Liam Stewart.