Kevin Phillips turned hometown hero to maintain the Smailes Goldie Hull Pirates’ 100% record in their pre-season schedule.
Having travelled to Milton Keynes last night and come away with a convincing 7-2 victory, Jason Hewitt’s men looked for more of the same tonight but were left frustrated by rugged Lightning defending and an inspired performance from Brandon Stones in the MK net.
The first period passed without much event; the home team taking early control and testing Stones and his defence on many occasions. Peter Fabus, Jordan Fisher and Bobby Chamberlain all with great chances to give the home side the lead. The best chance however, fell for the visitors whilst short-handed when a basic dump of the puck into the Pirates zone found a Lightning forward all alone. Ash Smith stood tall to keep the scores tied at 0-0 after the opening period.
The second period started with chances for both sides. The Pirates did manage to put the puck into the MK net but after a short discussion, the officials waved off the goal. This seemed to spur on the home side as chance after chance followed; Lightning’s last-gasp shot blocking and Stones’ top-notch goaltending ensuring the teams remained tied as the game reached the halfway point. The visitors did find themselves with another glorious chance, on a breakaway one on one with Smith. Once more, the home goalie held his nerve and poked the puck clear.
A few minutes after the Lightning chance, the Pirates took the lead. Olegs Sislannikovs tested Stones with a strong shot, which the Lightning goalie could only parry. Hewitt was on hand to mop up the rebound and put the Pirates 1-0 up just past the half-hour mark.
MK looked for an immediate response and found it just 4 minutes later, Brodie Jesson capitalising on a cheap giveaway from the Pirates’ defence to beat Smith at his near post and tie the game at 1-1, a score that would remain through the rest of the middle period.
The home side began the third period in the best possible way as Bobby Chamberlain found some space and slipped a shot through Stones’ five-hole after just 42 seconds, giving the Pirates the lead once more. Tempers threatened to fray as Cale Tanaka delivered a questionable hit to Chris Wilcox and found himself penalised. The Pirates threw everything at the power play but were left short at the back. Ari Nahri took advantage, slipping the puck past Smith to equalise for the short-handed Lightning after 45 minutes.
As the game looked to have petered out and entered the last 10 minutes, a slick play found Phillips in space and he slid the puck under Stones to score the Pirates’ third, and the eventual game-winning goal, with just 7 minutes left. Opportunities followed for both sides, but the clock ticked down and the Pirates held on to remain unbeaten through September’s pre-season campaign.
Man of the Match Awards:-
Milton Keynes Lightning -#29 Brandon Stones
Hull Pirates – #21 Bobby Chamberlain
By Greig Cardwell