Manchester Storm 6 – 2 Milton Keynes Lightning
After the sorry display against the Coventry Blaze the previous evening at home, it saw the Manchester Storm responding well with a come from behind victory to beat the impressive Milton Keynes side 6-2 with a much better performance.
The visitors in the MK Lightning were clearly on a high too, after they had beaten the Braehead Clan 3-1 the night before and have surprised many by how quickly they have managed to hit the ground running so far this season, having come from the formerly known English Premier League last season and are one of two new teams to the league with the Guildford Flames too.
Manchester who was seriously lacklustre in all departments the night before, saw the Storm given a timely boost ahead of the clash with Milton Keynes as Shane Bakker made his Elite League debut for the club, after he had been forced to watch from the stands after he picked up a foot injury in his first game in pre-season.
The home side made the perfect start courtesy of Ryan Trenz, as the defenseman fired a low wrist shot from the point that beat Miika Wiikman in the Lightning goal with just 0.26 seconds gone in the game and put Storm a goal up. MK then soon got back on level terms with the home side at 8.15, when the home defence left Denny Kearney completely unmarked and he fired high on Mike Clemente to make it a 1-1 game.
Both sides seemed to have the measure of each other as the game ticked along, with neither team able to grab control of the contest and made it a very stifling game with not much in the way of goalmouth action. Both teams created a few chances in the second period, but neither side was able to convert on their efforts early on.
Milton Keynes sounded a warning shot to the home side when an effort pinged off the goalpost and saw the Lightning playing well. Mike Clemente then nearly saw him having egg on his face, as the netminder thought he had the puck covered up but instead, the puck had squirmed under the pads and behind him in front of the open cage without knowing the whereabouts of the puck, but thankfully the defence cleared away from danger.
Those warnings weren’t heeded by the hosts, with the Lightning striking instantly on the power play through Carl Hudson, as he intercepted a poor clearance by a Manchester defence in the Storm zone and the former Cardiff Devils player blasted home to put MK into a 2-1 lead at 27.45.
Manchester then got awarded a power play themselves minutes later, and that saw Matt Bissonette tying the game up at 2-2 at 29.47 with a very patient build up from the power play unit that saw Mike Hammond feeding the puck to Matt Beca, who in turn fired a pass out to the back door for Bissonette to put in and get things level.
Moments later, it saw Linden Springer somehow managing to squeeze the puck past the netminder for a 3-2 lead for the Storm at 33.47 and seem to be the key goal. The Lightning then suffered a blow when a collision involving the netminder Miika Wiikman saw him ending up in back of the net and remained in some discomfort for the rest of the period.
Pete Russell the MK and Great Britain head coach was then forced into a change for the start of the third period, with Jordan Hedley taking his place between the pipes for the Lightning with the injured Wiikman out of the game. Hedley instantly came under fire in the Lightning net, but the young goalie made some good stops to keep the home side out.
Manchester forward Ciaran Long then made it 4-2 for the hosts after a direct play up ice saw Matt Stanisz firing the puck up the boards for Shane Bakker who nudged it on ahead for Jay Rosehill to get on the off, before the captain then made a lovely back-handed pass across the face of goal for Long to convert on and set the Storm on their way to victory.
Mike Hammond added a fifth on the power play for the home side at 50.41, as the Storm worked another good extra man advantage to see them effectively seal the game. Minutes later, it saw Mike Hammond dispossessing MK’s Carl Hudson on the penalty kill in the Storm zone and setting up a two-on-one break for the home side and finish with Matt Beca making it six and have the Storm finishing their weekend on a high.