Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning suffered disappointment in the first of their three matches in Scotland when they went down to a late Fife Flyers goal in in Kirkcaldy on Friday.
Lightning battled back to tie the scores at 2-2 at the second break after falling two goals behind before Flyers grabbed the points with a short-handed strike from Ričards Birziņš with 11mins 41secs to go. From then on there was no way back for the visitors despite withdrawing goalie Miika Wiikman in favour of the extra skater in the final minute or so.
Pete Russell’s men started the game brightly and it was against the run of play when Shayne Stockton supplied Charlie Mosey to open the Flyers tally after 8mins 58secs.
Matt Nickerson was sin binned in the 15th minute for interference but Lightning’s penalty kill unit did their job in keeping Fife at bay with the first period ending 1-0 to the hosts.
There was a further penalty for Lightning just 2mins 8secs into the second session – referee Neil Wilson calling Quin Pompi for hooking. Again no goal resulted and Lightning returned to full strength unscathed.
However Flyers were able to capitalise on one of their chances after 28mins 49secs when Evan Bloodoff was the provider for Chase Schaber to make it 2-0.
Lightning did not give up though and they cut the deficit on 34mins 40secs when Kevin Gibson registered unassisted.
Less than two minutes later it was game on as Denny Kearney and Guillaume Doucet had a hand in the equaliser scored by Paul Verreault-Paul. At the same time Kearney was penalised for slashing but the powerplay was of little consequence for Flyers.
At this stage the momentum was with Lightning and that continued in the early part of the third period when Ludwig Karlsson was just too slow when clear on the Flyers goal.
Penalties on Flyers Ian Young and MK’s Doucet came on 47mins 58secs, for holding and unsportsmanlike conduct respectively, quickly followed by a hooking call on the home side’s Bloodoff.
It proved to be the decisive moment in the game – for all the wrong reasons – as Birziņš broke away to score short-handed to put Flyer 3-2 in front. Lightning quickly had a further powerplay when James Jorgensen was sidelined for delaying the game but it came to nothing.
Further penalties on Flyers James Isaacs and MK’s Kyle Essery, both for holding, both passed without any goals.
With a narrow defeat looming Wiikman – man of the match for the third game in succession – was taken off to bring on an extra skater with 1mins 3secs left. However it failed to have the desired result as Flyers held on for the win.
Man of the match: Miika Wiikman.