Good times continue as MK Lightning defeat Sheffield Steeldogs

    Image Credit: © Tony Sargent

    The good times continued for the Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning last night as they overcome the visiting Sheffield Steeldogs by a 5-2 score.

    The convincing victory sees the Lightning hold a 4-1-0 record in their past five games and levelled the season series between the two clubs to 2-2.

    The Lightning (8-13-2) remain level on points with the London Raiders, who themselves defeated the Hull Pirates last night, and are now just three points behind the Bracknell Bees in 7th in the NIHL National.

    The game was an excellent example of the improvements that the Lightning have made in recent weeks, with a healthy roster and some new additions helping to reshape the team and have them claiming victories over clubs higher up the league standings.

    It took just over eight minutes for the first goal to be registered, with Tomas Kana slotting home a clean wrist shot on the team's first powerplay of the night, almost immediately from a face-off in the offensive zone.

    This sent a flurry of toy bears onto the ice as it was the club's 'Air The Bear' charity night.

    With the Lightning registering the first goal, the Steeldogs would never come closer to tying things up for the rest of the game.

    The Lightning, however, came close to extending their lead when Liam Stewart intercepted a wayward pass in front of the Steeldogs' goal, having two shots saved by Dmitri Zimozdra.

    A couple more penalties were shared between the two sides before the first period ended with the Lightning up 1-0.

    Robin Kovar, who was later named man of the match for the Lightning, extended the home side's lead to two with a smooth backhanded shot coming from a Liam Stewart feed just under two minutes into the second period.

    Just prior to that, the Steeldogs had a great chance to get on the board, with a shot hitting the post before being scooped up behind goaltender Jordan Lawday.

    Another opportunity came beckoning with the puck falling behind Lawday after a huge scramble in front of the nearly, nearly crossing the goal line before Cale Tanaka came to the rescue and cleared it out of the zone.

    Team captain Russ Cowley added a third goal for the Lightning just over ten minutes later, with a simple tap-in at the back post from a Kana pass across the ice.

    The game, which was a physical and feisty affair throughout, kicked off with just under four minutes left in the second.

    A strong hit from James Griffin in the Steeldogs' zone was clearly disliked by Charlie Thompson, who cross-checked the defenceman after the whistle had been blown by the officials.

    Thompson received a two-minute penalty for the cross-check, and a little more. Tom Carlon, standing up for his teammate, decided to show Thompson what he thought of the hit, dropping the gloves and dropping the 23-year-old to the ice with a few flurries of punches.

    This lead to most of the skaters on the ice to try and separate the pair and ultimately led to Carlon receiving a match penalty for fighting.

    The two sides ended the second with the Steeldogs having just over a minute to go on the powerplay.

    The Steeldogs finally got themselves on the scoresheet with a few seconds remaining on the powerplay thanks to a Ben Morgan shot from the point.

    Things got a bit tense as the visitors cut the Lightning's lead to just one goal through Thompson after Lawday was unable to control the a rebound shot, seeing the puck tapped in at the back post.

    But the Lightning ensured there wouldn't be any upsets that night, with Kovar adding a second goal, once again from a Stewart assist, scoring in a similar fashion to Cowley earlier in the game.

    With just over 40 seconds left in the game, Sheffield threw everything they had at the Lightning, who were defending a powerplay for a Tanaka hook.

    With the goalie pulled, Liam Stewart managed to out-skate a Steeldogs defenceman, tapping in the empty-net goal for his 16th goal of the season and third point of the night.

    Cheers rang around the arena when the final buzzer sounded, ensuring the Lightning continued their recent run of good form before travelling to Sheffield later today to take on the Steeldogs once again.

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