By Tom Hurley
A record-breaking crowd saw Thunder take on ex-EPL outfit Bracknell Bees in Sautrday’s home opener at Planet Ice.
Ex-Lightning import Frantisek Bakrlik and EPL stalwart Shaun Thompson both hit hat-tricks as Bees skated back to Berkshire with a hard-earned 7-5 victory.
Bakrlik scored the game’s first goal two minutes into the contest with young Thunder forward Rio Grinell-Parke replying ten minutes later.
Bakrlik’s second restored Bracknell’s advantage before Gareth O’Flaherty broke free on the power play to send the teams into the first intermission locked at 2-2.
Grinell-Parke showed his hand-eye coordination to bat the puck home for Thunder’s first lead five minutes into the second. Three penalties against the home side then put Bracknell on a 5-on-3 power play where Bakrlik secured his natural hat-trick with a slapshot from the point.
Connor Goode found the net with a slapshot of his own early in the third to restore Thunder’s lead, which was then doubled by Line’s top corner snipe on the PP with less than ten minutes to go.
Bracknell were back within a goal almost immediately courtesy of Thompson, and were then on level terms when the former Basingstoke Bison rounded Tom Annetts in the MKT goal.
The Bees continued to press forward in search of a winner and found it when George Norcliffe eluded his defender and unleashed a low shot that beat Annetts five-hole.
Thompson completed his hat-trick with an empty netter late on to secure the 7-5 score line.