Telford Tigers just edged out Milton Keynes Lightning 6-4 in the final play off group game in Shropshire on Sunday – both teams already assured of qualification for the Coventry semi-finals.
With the place in the final four in the bag MK coach Lewis Clifford took the opportunity to give some extra ice time to players who had not featured heavily in the line-up in recent times. Brandon Stones was given the netminder’s duties while Callum Field and Edgars Landsbergs played on the third line.
The skating duo did not waste the opportunity to make an impression with Landsbergs assisting on man of the match Field’s goal that opened the scoring after 7mins 41secs. Less than two minutes later both sides were reduced to four skaters as Jake Price and Mikey Power clashed – roughing calls resulting.
MK held firm when they were forced to go on the penalty kill after Leigh Jamieson was sin binned for delaying the game before Scott McKenzie, supplied by Price and Nick Oliver levelled for the hosts on 17mins 3secs.
A 19th minute bench penalty for too many men proved decisive for Lightning as Tigers said scored within six seconds on the powerplay at 19mins 32secs. Again the man on the mark was McKenzie, finishing off from Jason Silverthorn and Corey Goodison.
Price was back in the penalty box for hooking in the 27th minute – this time it was Tigers’ who held on while short-handed. Lightning however, equalised on 33mins 14secs with Tim Wallace making the supply for Power to fire home.
For the second time in the game MK went in front on 38mins 32secs when Hallden Barnes-Garner registered from Sam Talbot and Jamieson. The lead was brief with Telford replying at 39mins 42secs through Vladimir Luka, aided by Thomas McKinnon.
Finley Howells put the home team back in front within 2mins 19secs of the start of the third session and, after seeing off a holding the opponent; stick call on McKenzie, Dan Rose stretched the gap to 5-3.
Lightning were not finished yet though and Ed Knaggs and Griffin assisted as Wallace beat goalie Brad Day at 49mins 27secs.
Unfortunately, MK conceded for a sixth time less than 45 seconds later Austin Mitchell King combining with Rick Plant and Silverthorn at 50mins 9secs for a 6-4 final score.
Two further penalties – Andy McKinney, hooking for Telford, and Lewis Christie, tripping for MK, made no difference to the tallies in what was a keenly fought, but fairly meaningless game for both outfits.
Man of the match: Callum Field.