Guildford Flames showed the Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning no sympathy after they endured a horrendous four hour-plus journey to the Spectrum Centre on Wednesday.
Lightning could have been forgiven for wishing they hadn’t bothered to complete the trip after they went down 7-2 in a game which did not face off until well after 8.30pm.
Things started badly for the travellers with Jonathan Boxill and then Evan Stoflet being consigned to the penalty box within a few seconds of each other in the second minute.
That gave Flames the chance to score on the five on three powerplay and they didn’t waste the opportunity with John Dunbar and Calle Ackered both involved as Jesse Craige found the net on 3mins 22secs.
Dunbar, for slashing and Ackered, for cross checking, both spent time in the penalty box but, unlike Guildford, Peter Russell’s men could not make it count – and they fell further behind when the home outfit made the most of a holding call on Carl Hudson; this time it was Ackered on the mark at 14mins 50secs.
The second session was just 3mins 14secs old when Guillaume Doucet was penalised for hooking – no goal resulted from that infraction but one did when Hudson was caught slashing. Referee Mike Hicks immediately awarded a penalty shot from which Liam Stewart bagged the first of his hat-trick on 28mins 31secs.
A pair of Flames penalties – on Dunbar and Craige – before the second break proved fruitless for Lightning who, in between, conceded a second strike to Stewart 3mins 33secs from the interval.
Jordan Hedley replaced Miika Wiikman in the MK net for the third period and he at least was able to keep Flames at bay until 50mins 18secs when Mikael Lidhammar set up Ben Campbell to make it 5-0.
Christian Isackson was the provider for Kevin King to score the first of what were no more than two consolation goals for Lightning on 53mins51secs but that was cancelled out as Stewart hit the third of his strikes with exactly four minutes remaining.
Eight seconds later Isackson bagged an unassisted second for Lightning with Rhett Rachinski hitting Flames seventh, also unassisted, with 2mins 58secs left on the clock.
Lightning will not want too many nights like this again when the spirit of Christmas was definitely missing, not least on their tedious journey to Surrey.
Man of the match: Paul Phillips.