Milton Keynes Lightning 5 Manchester Phoenix 5

MANCHESTER Phoenix fought back from 5-2 down to earn a draw in the EPL Cup semi-final first leg last night against, Milton Keynes Lightning.

After two heavy defeats in their last visits to the Skydome, Phoenix were determined to redress the balance and keep the tie alive for next week’s second leg.

The visitors started well but lost an early goal when Grant McPherson hit a speculative shot through traffic and past Stephen Fone.

A good end-to-end spell midway through the period saw Phoenix equalise.Robin Kovar scored with assists going to Frankie Bakrlik and Joe Graham In the second period, the sparse home crowd were shocked when Phoenix took the lead with a short-handed goal.

The Milton Keynes power play broke right and a cross ice pass was intercepted by Robert Schnabel who fed Tony Hand.

The mercurial veteran raced into the attacking zone and found Michal Psurny with pin-point accuracy and the Czech forward made no mistake.

Phoenix were having a good spell as the game ebbed and flowed with both netminders being called upon.

Lightning equalised with a Ross Bowers goal, assisted by Lukas Zatopek and after two periods, the scores were still level at 2-2.

The home side took the lead just two minuyrd into the third period with a goal by captain Adam Carr.

Phoenix then hit penalty trouble and a succession of calls ended up with two power play goals for Milton Keynes. Both were scored by Stan Lascek.

With Lightning having a three-goal lead, Phoenix had to find a way back into the tie and not a single Phoenix fan would have predicted what happened in the final three and a half minutes of the match.

Lightning D man Michael Farn was called for hooking on 56 minutes and Phoenix pulled a goal back 37 seconds later through James Archer, assisted by Tony Hand and Michal Psurny.

Just 45 seconds later it was a one-goal game as Robin Kovar scored his second of the night to make it 5-4. Assists were awarded to Frankie Bakrlik and Andy McKinney.

The comeback was completed with 38 seconds left in the game with Phoenix top scorer Michal Psurny scoring his second of the night, assisted by James Archer and Tony Hand.

Phoenix owner Neil Morris said after the game: “You have to hand it to the lads tonight. To pull back three goals like we did at the end of the game was sensational and it gives us every chance to make the final. Next Thursday’s game will be a cracker; nobody will want to miss it.”

Phoenix scorers: Robin Kovar 2, Michal Psurny 2, James Archer The return leg is on Thursday February 13 at the Dome, face off 7pm. The winners will meet Basingstoke Bison in the final.

The next Phoenix next home game is on Sunday February 9, against Sheffield Steelers, face off 5.30pm.