Third period Kearney double defeats Blaze
A third period double from Denny Kearney helped the Milton Keynes Lightning to a 3-1 victory over the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze at Planet Ice Arena, MK.
The game saw a 500th appearance for 23-year-old British forward Ross Venus, the Solihull born player becoming just the sixth player in Coventry history to reach the significant milestone.
Despite missing top scorer Marco-Vallerand again through injury, Blaze started the better with Assistant Captain Ryan Dingle opening the scoring at 16.15. Gaelan Patterson and Brett Robinson who made a fantastic move to set up the snipe with the helpers.
Coventry lost some momentum in the middle period with Kevin Nastiuk having to stop 17 shots, Miika Wiikman at the other end facing 7. Neither goalie was to be beaten though with the major talking point coming at 30.13.
VojtÄch Kloz’s assessed kneeing penalty saw Kyle Essery limp straight to the MK locker room, Coach Pete Russell furious with the minor two minutes for the Blaze defenceman.
On returning to the ice from the penalty box, Tommy Mele challenged Kloz to fight, the two falling before any major punches were thrown.
The first Kearney strike then came early into the final twenty minutes (41.33) before a controversial call by officials Dean Smith and Matt Rose saw him double his tally.
With Jordan Pietrus already sat in the box for cross-checking, after sustained MK pressure Kevin Noble was called for a delay of game after the Blaze net was dislodged. With just 1 second left of the subsequent 5-on-3, the game-winning-goal came from Kearney (48.03), the only powerplay marker of the night. MK going 1/7, Coventry 0/6.
With Nastiuk pulled for the extra skater, Kevin King secured the 3-1 win scoring into the empty net (59.10).
Head Coach Danny Stewart said, “I thought in the first period we came out with energy and played a great period. We spent too much time on the PK in the 2nd and lost our stride a bit. Giving one up on a 5-on-3 that essentially decided the game is a tough one to take right now. I will reserve judgement until I see the video clearly, but it’s a tough way to lose a hockey game. We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves. We had plenty of chances tonight and just couldn’t find the back of the net. This league is so good and there’s a fine line between winning and losing right now. We need a big bounce back tomorrow.”