By Tom Hurley
Teenager Josh Crane made 22 saves to earn a win in his first NIHL South 1 start as Thunder beat Cardiff Fire, 4-2, at Planet Ice on Sunday night.
Cardiff netminder Jordan Lawday was also on fine form, pulling off a string of saves to keep the much-improved Fire within touching distance of their first win since promotion from NIHL 2 last season.
The visitors got on the scoresheet first when Michael Stratford and Callum Buglass broke free on the counter attack, with the former’s shot beating Crane for a 1-0 lead.
Alex Whyte tucked home from a tight angle on the rebound from Nidal Phillip’s blue-line blast to level the score midway through the first period, before captain Jamie Line’s wrist shot put Thunder 2-1 up heading into the first intermission.
Lawday somehow kept MKT from extending their advantage, and his teammates made the most of his efforts when Thunder fell into penalty trouble late in the second period. As two men in white jerseys sat in the penalty box, Kalle Allner found the back of the net on the 5-on-3 power play to tie the game heading into the third frame.
Thunder came out for the third period full of desire, and sustained pressure in the offensive end paid off when Rio Grinell-Parke backhanded home from close range after Ross Bowers’ shot was kicked to the teenager by Lawday.
Emotions flared as Fire sniffed the opportunity to avoid defeat for the first time this season. But they were to be denied any chance of a comeback when Grant McPherson stepped out from behind the net to fire the puck into the top corner and secure the 4-2 win for Lewis Clifford’s men.
Thunder return to home ice this coming Sunday, Dec 3 for the visit of Basingstoke Bison. Puck drop at Planet Ice is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Adult tickets are priced at only £9, Concessions and MKL season ticket holders £5, and Under 16s just £1.