The Stena Line Belfast Giants lost out to the Milton Keynes Lightning as the Elite League newcomers took a 6-3 win. The Giants trailed for much of the game and came up against an impressive Lightning side backstopped by Miika Wiikman in goal.
Lightning Strikes Twice
The home side began their life in Elite League hockey with an early goal against the Giants. Kevin Gibson’s shot from the blue line flew high into the Belfast net at 2:05. The Giants protested for high-sticking from a Lightning forward screening Stephen Murphy though Referee Hogarth awarded the goal and the hosts were 1-0 up.
Four minutes later and it was 2-0 as the Lightning struck for a second time in the opening period. It was Kevin King who grabbed the hosts’ goal with a one-timer on the powerplay at 6:12.
Sebastien Sylvestre continued his good form with a fine finish into the bottom corner of the Lightning net at 19:04 after a sweeping move with Jonathan Ferland and John Kurtz.
Milton Keynes Take Control
Guillaume Doucet, formerly of Nottingham and Cardiff, scored unassisted at 21:09, picking up a loose puck and skating the puck around the Giants net.
The Lightning were 4-1 to the good at 24:34 when Lewis Hook finished off a 3-on-1 play following a quick transition from the Milton Keynes zone.
Giants Get Back Into The Game
Just as in the first period, the Giants answered the Lightning’s two goals with one of their own. Defenceman Spiro Goulakos lined up at the blueline and fired a wrist shot on net which Colin Shields redirected into the MK goal at 31:06.
Lewis Hook restored the Lightning’s three goal lead at 34:45 with his second goal of the game. Hook’s goal looked to be the final action of the middle period until Steve Saviano’s backhanded finish on the powerplay at 39:53 to leave the Giants two goals behind.
MK Close Out Final Period
Trailing by two goals, the Giants were unable to find a way past an in-form Miika Wiikman in the Lightning goal during the third period. Then, late on, the visitors ran into penalty trouble and their opponents took full advantage. Guillaume Doucet doubled his tally for the game with a powerplay effort at 57:53 to ensure the Lighting took the 6-3 win.
Milton Keynes Lightning 6-3 Stena Line Belfast Giants
Giants Man of the Match
#19 Colin Shields (1 goal + 1 assist)
The Stena Line Belfast Giants face the Dundee Stars on Saturday 16th September. Tickets are now on sale online at ticketmaster.ie as well as from the Arena Box Office either in person or by calling (028) 9073 9074.
Photo: Tony Sargent