PREVIEW: Lightning v Tigers (Playoff Q/F 1st Leg)

This Saturday sees Milton Keynes Lightning contest arguably their most important game of the season to date, when they face Telford Tigers in the home leg of the EPIHL Play Off Quarter Final (MK Arena on Saturday 26 March at 7pm).

Pete Russell’s side wrapped up their league campaign in style last weekend, beating new league champions Basingstoke Bison in front of a sell-out home crowd on Saturday – then defeating league newcomers Hull Pirates 2-4 in Humberside, 24 hours later.

After 54 games, Lightning ended the season fifth in the 10-team league and will play Telford Tigers in the Play Off EMERSIC v Bison 20160319 Tonycompetition which gets underway this weekend in a two-leg quarter final.  Lightning host the Tigers on Saturday at 7pm then MKL make the journey to Shropshire on Sunday for the decisive second leg.

Lightning boasted the third-tightest defence in the entire EPL this season, bettering even that of Guildford and Telford who finished higher.  But that defence will need to be at its very best over the two legs, with Telford having scored more goals than any other team in the league.  MKL defensive mainstays Lewis Christie, Michael Farn and Ross Green, were joined this season by MK Thunder and GB U18/U20 player Ed Knaggs, James Griffin from the Elite League’s Coventry Blaze, and former Montreal Canadiens draft pick Martti Järventie,

MKL and Telford have been closely matched all season, both finishing on 69 points but with MKL taking only 2 wins fewer than Tigers – and conceding two goals less overall.  And whilst MK have won just one in six against Telford this HOOK v Tigers 20150926season, Saturday’s well-worked 3-2 win in regulation time over new league champions Basingstoke Bison showed that Pete Russell’s team can beat anyone in the league.

Just four players – Cownie, Bakrlik, Emersic and Hook – were responsible for almost half of Lightning’s goal tally this season and Markku Tahtinen  set up over 30 per cent more goals than any other player in the team.

For Telford it’s again four players who account for a large chunk of the goal tally – Jason Silverthorn, Peter Szabo, Joe Miller and Max Birbraer accounting for over 100 goals between them.   Szabo, Miller and Birbraer are also the men to watch in terms of assists.  Net minders Sam Gospel and Thomas Murdy have shared duties between the pipes fairly equally this season with Gospel having a marginally better save percentage.

Tickets for Saturday’s game are on sale now from the Arena box office by calling 01908 540020, in person or online at mk-lightning.co.uk/tickets.

This game is not included in season tickets but those supporters can save their seat or viewing spot up to 4pm on match day by calling 01908 540020 or visiting the box office in person.

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