By Tom Hurley
Teenagers Rio Grinell-Parke and Josh Crane put in Man-of-the-Match performances over the weekend as Thunder fell twice to NIHL Autumn Cup finalists Swindon Wildcats.
With netminder Tom Annetts missing the weekend through injury, Saturday saw Crane get the start in a packed Swindon Link Centre as MKT tackled their second consecutive week of doubleheaders against former EPL teams.
Thunder came from behind twice in the first period Saturday after goals from Gareth O’Flaherty Tom Carlon saw the red and black cancel out the efforts of Swindon’s Aaron Nell and Chris Jones.
MKT completed a full turn around when Grinell-Parke gave Lewis Clifford’s men a 3-2 lead five minutes into the second period, only for Nell to hit back 11 seconds later.
Swindon then went onto score six more times before the second intermission, with Jones completing his hat trick along with goals from Luc Johnson, Phil Hill, Michael Power, and Edgars Brebis.
Michael Stratford’s first Thunder goal since his switch from Cardiff Fire late in the period saw Swindon lead 9-4 through 40 minutes. Sam Bullas struck early in the third for the game’s final 10-4 scoreline.
Sunday the teams played the second of the home-and-home series at Planet Ice, and it was the Wildcats who again struck first, this time through Hill on a power play in the 15th minute.
The 1-0 lead carried into 34th minute when two goals in 16 seconds from Hill and Power broke open a back-and-forth game and saw Swindon take a 3-0 advantage into the second period break.
Bullas made it 4-0 five minutes into the third period, before Stratford showed composure to beat Renny Marr and give the game it’s 4-1 final scoreline.
Thunder are back in action on Sunday, Feb. 11, when Invcita Dynamos visit Planet Ice for a 6:30pm NIHL South 1 game. Tickets are available from the arena box office priced at £9 Adults, £5 Concessions, £5 MK Lightning season ticket holders, and £1 Under 16s.