By Kris Smith
The Kitmart Dundee Stars took just one point from their road trip to Buckinghamshire after coming up short in a penalty shootout.
François Bouchard and Petr Chaloupka (upper body) were Dundee’s only scratches while Milton Keynes were only without, Georgs Golovkovs, who was on international duty with Latvia.
The first chance of the game went to Dundee but Patrick Killeen was not allowing any early goals past him. Stars netminder, Pontus Sjögren was also forced to make a few key saves in the opening minutes as Milton Keynes went the other way.
The first penalty of the night went against one of the Lightning’s player-coaches as Ryan Lannon was boxed for high-sticking in the eighth minute. Omar Pacha’s powerplay unit could not open the scoring on the two-minute man advantage.
There was a long period of play going back and forth with good opportunities for both teams but both goalies stood firm to keep the game scoreless. The visitors then went back on the powerplay as David Norris tripped Oliver Paczkowski to earn two minutes in the sin bin after 15 minutes of play.
However, Matt Marquardt ended the Stars man advantage after just 12 seconds, as he was punished for slashing a Lightning player. The deadlock was finally broken as Jordan Cownie fired Dundee into the lead.
Fabrizio Ricci sent a pass from the left corner to Cownie and from the edge of the crease, he redirected the puck past Killeen in the 18th minute. The goal came just after Charles Corcoran had a huge chance to score, the Stars forward broke into the Milton Keynes end with speed but failed to get his shot around the Lightning goalie.
Dundee took a slender lead into the first break but it did not last long as Martin Mazanec levelled the score in the 22nd minute. He had took two attempts to find the net as his first shot was blocked by a Stars defender but he collected his own rebound before beating Sjögren from the right side of the ice.
It was quiet second stanza up until just after the halfway mark when Milton Keynes netted two goals in 32 seconds to take a 3-1 lead. Defender, Shawn Boutin turned over the puck on the Milton Keynes blue line to Michael Fine and he quickly skated into the Stars end and squared a pass to Tim Wallace and he scored into a gaping goal in the 33rd minute.
The home team’s third goal came after Cole Shudra circled the Stars zone before firing a shot towards goal but it was blocked by the defenders in front. However, Radek Meidl was able to get to the loose puck first and send it past Sjögren.
Dundee could not reduce the deficit more before the second intermission but they returned to the ice with a hunger to get back in the tie and eventually they would. Just after the 45-minute mark, Corcoran split the Milton Keynes defencemen and sent a quick shot through the legs of Killeen and he could not stop it from trickling across the line.
The Tayside team soon after made it 3-3 as Cownie bagged his brace. The same combination of players recreated their first goal to tie the game in the 53rd minute. Neither side could find a winner before the end of regulation time, thus overtime was required.
An early penalty against Ricci left Stars shorthanded after just 26 seconds of extra time. Dundee managed to survive the four-on-three powerplay before getting a chance with the extra skater themselves.
Mazanec was penalised for holding on the 64-minute mark, giving the away team just one-minute to capitalise and steal the extra point. However, Killeen made numerous key saves to force the game into a shootout.
Fine went first for the Lightning and just like Marquardt, Nelson Armstrong, Corcoran, Wallace and Lukas Lundvald, failed to score. Robbie Baillargeon netted the first penalty shot with a quick shot between the legs of Sjögren.
Killeen stopped former Lightning player, Cownie, before Andreas Valdix beat the Stars Swedish shot-stopper on the blocker side to win the extra point for Milton Keynes.
‘Man of the Match’ awards went to Ivan Sijan and Dundee’s Matt Bissonnette. Stars now return to Tayside for a huge clash with the Glasgow Clan that will be pivotal in their playoff push.