A seven game winning run finally came to an end for Milton Keynes Lightning at Telford Tigers on Sunday – but not without a dramatic marathon penalty shootout in which both sides had more than a dozen attempts on goal.
Tigers eventually won the shoot-out 4-3 and the game 6-5 to take maximum points while Lightning picked up a single point to ensure three points out of four from the weekend.
Yet with less than eight minutes of regulation time left Tigers, winning 5-2, looked to be on course for victory without the need for overtime or a penalty shootout. The hosts didn’t count on an incredible fightback which culminated in Hallden Barnes Garner levelling the scores on a powerplay at 56mins 12secs.
At the half way mark Tigers looked comfortable as they held a 4-1 advantage having taken the lead after 8mins 11secs through Czech import Vladimir Luka. Sean Norris and Sam Talbot were involved when Bobby Chamberlain equalised 26 seconds before the first break but it was only a brief respite as Andy McKinney fired the home side back in front within 1min 30secs of the restart.
When MK were penalised for having too many men on the ice a couple of minutes later their situation took another blow as Luka took full advantage to fire past Smital for a 3-1 score at 24mins 53secs. Lewis Clifford’s men had hardly any time to recover before Jack Hopkins added to Tigers tally on 26mins 18secs.
A second Lightning strike, this time from Zaine McKenzie, aided by Ed Knaggs and Sam Talbot, after 31mins 8secs brought a swift response from the home side who registered a delayed penalty goal through Nick Oliver at 32mins18secs – the high stick call being on new signing Mikey Power.
That proved to be the final time Tigers found a way past Smital until the penalty shootout. However, with eight minutes remaining the home side held the cards as they led 5-2 before Jake Price was sin binned for slashing.
Within 39 seconds of the start of the penalty Liam Stewart and Russell Cowley were the providers for Leigh Jamieson to fire past goalie Bradley Day. It gave Lightning hope of a late resurgence and when Chamberlain and Talbot were involved in the move which resulted in a Sean Norris goal on 54mins 15secs the deficit was reduced to one goal.
A further penalty – this time on McKinney for interference in the 55th minute – provided the opportunity for an equaliser which Lightning duly took with Jamieson and Stewart involved as Barnes-Garner breached the Tigers goal to make it 5-5 with 3mins 48secs to go.
No further goals in regulation time sent the game into an equally scoreless five minutes of overtime. Thus penalties were necessary. No one could have forecast how long it would take to separate the two combatants.
Man of the match: Ross Green.